‘Really Love’ Isn’t Just a Romance Movie, It’s a Love Letter to the Black Experience

  • “Truly love” is a romance film that explores love, art and the black experience in Washington DC.
  • Insider caught up with Siriboe and Wong-Loi-Sing to discuss their on-screen chemistry.

“Really Love” is a romance film that proves to be a valuable expression of black relationships and personal growth.

The film follows Isaiah (Kofi Siriboe), a painter who depicts black life in gentrified Washington D.C., and Stevie (Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing), a law student with a passion for helping others. Their romance in “Really Love” begins at an art exhibit and evolves against the vibrant DC culture as a backdrop.

Hollywood’s take on black love is constantly under scrutiny due to negative portrayals, but “Really Love” gives romance the right amount of warmth while avoiding trauma.

“It’s truly a loving collaboration,” Kofi Siriboe told Insider during an interview alongside Wong-Loi-Sing.

I really like zooms in the intimate moments of love

Kofi Siriboe and Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing in “Really Love”

Love/macro movies

“Really Love” does one thing exceptionally well – and that’s to focus on the details. The way Isaiah and Stevie look each other in the eye, or the way they dance or kiss each other on the forehead – viewers are enchanted by the two lovers.

When asked how these moments were organically integrated into the scenes, Siriboe said they worked together to build “a space where we can trust each other and give each other the license to be free.”

“Like in any relationship, when you get to know someone, there’s this learning process of how everyone has a different love language,” he said. “Everybody wants to be touched differently. Everybody wants to be addressed differently. And just to be able to dive in and say, ‘We’re doing this together as teammates and we have to trust each other.'”

During a montage of Stevie and Isaiah on their one-day date, the only sound the audience hears is jazz music. Their body language and expressions speak for themselves. Wong-Loi-Sing said she and co-star Siriboe decided to pretend the camera wasn’t there.

“We were like, ‘What if we love each other right now?'” Wong-Loi-Sing said. “What does it look like? This part really feels like magic.”

Really Love’ masterfully portrays and elevates the ‘everyday’ black experience

Kofi Siriboe, Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing, Jade Eshete and Tristan Mack Wilds in the image of “Really Love”

Love/macro movies

Platonic intimacy is something that isn’t celebrated enough when depicted in film, but “Really Love” makes a point of showing different kinds of love. Yusef Davis (Michael Ealy) mentors Isaiah, while Chenai Hungwe (Uzo Aduba) pushes Isaiah as an artist. Stevie’s parents (Blair Underwood and Suzanne Douglas) show protective yet nurturing love.

There’s a scene where Isaiah’s childhood friend Nick (Tristan Mack Wilds) visits Isaiah after not seeing him for a year. There’s a pause between the characters after they smack each other, and Nick launches into a long nurturing hug.

It’s a moment of vulnerability and support happening between two black men – something that isn’t often shown on screen. The moment shows the importance of having those around us feel like safe spaces to unfold and feel seen.

The film also shows characters existing in their daily lives. Siriboe told Insider that it was important for him to portray that through this film because “it’s very easy to…ignore that.”

“I remember being young and seeing ‘Love Jones’ and seeing movies were just people [being]”, he said. “As much as I like ‘Love Jones’ and Larenz [Tate] and Nia [Long] – I like the times when they were with their friends and they were just talking. And when he was playing pool with Isaiah Washington.”

He continued: “It was just us who were we, but in such a beautiful way.”

‘Really Love’ shines a light on the black experience in Washington, D.C.

Kofi Siriboe, Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing and Jade Eshete in “Really Love”

netflix

Layers of black culture are shown throughout the film through important but small details. There are frequent nods to diasporic culture in Washington DC, such as go-go dancing, Ethiopian cuisine, jazz, art, and decor.

Siriboe explained how the director, Angel Kristi Williams, brought specific experiences she saw as a child and brought them to life.

“It’s his upbringing,” Siriboe said. “We shot in the streets where she used to walk home after school.”

“The fact that Angel had the vision to use DC as the basis for this movie means so much more to me and so much more to the movie because now people can watch this movie from across the sea and see themselves too,” Wong-Loi-Sing continued.

“Really Love” turns out slow and steady wins the race. There’s no heartbreaking drama that takes you away from the fun. But make no mistake: this movie is made with and exudes love. The film abundantly and unashamedly presents black people, in the best light – figuratively and literally.

“Really Love” is streaming now on Netflix.

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