Black Coffee: Cinematic Lack-Luster & Underwhelming Rom-Com

By Ural Garrett · January 11, 2014

Black Coffee may fill the needs of those craving a fairly innocent romantic comedy with a majority African American cast. The rest are better off avoiding it at all cost. Even the film’s marketed audience may be turned off by its wooden acting, atrocious editing, uninspired plot and anti-climatic ending. It’s quite a shame, Black Coffee tries to differentiate itself from the vast majority of “urban” indie films that normally find its way to the bargain DVD section.

Stomp The Yard star Darrin Henson portrays narrative center Robert, a man who is having one hell of day. Not only does he get fired from the painting company his father started, but his significant other Mita (Erica Hubbard) finds “love” in the guy responsible for terminating him. This leads Robert to earn some cash by selling coffee for cousin Julian (Christian Keyes). Making his way to a local attorney’s office, he’s introduced to ambitious lawyer and eventual romantic interest Morgan (Gabrielle Dennis). Of course, Morgan has a bit of relationship baggage through immensely wealthy ex-husband Hill (given life through Why Did I Get Married’s Lamman Rucker). 

Though known for playing roles normally involving a self-confident man with a chiseled physique, it’s quite refreshing to see Henson play a romantically vulnerable Robert. This is before the serviceable script quickly turns shoddy. Whatever possible emotional connect gained gets weighted down considerable from cringe worthy dialogue and shear lifeless shots at humor. Even as Robert and Morgan’s bond becomes closer, Mita and Hill’s monotonous personas kill whatever tension director/writer Mark Harris attempts. Some of Black Coffee’s better comedic moments come from Keyes role as Julian who at times seems a little too comfortable.

On a technical level, Black Coffee’s lack of cinematic quality is apparent. There are some weird editing choices that lend an amateur vibe. Cuts seem disjointed, and sound syncing during several moments of up close dialogue feels completely off. Then there’s the lackluster soundtrack. If the creatively redundant montages weren’t enough, the horrid R&B inspired sonics becomes overkill. Then again, this coming from the same team that delivered forgettable (yet commercially successful) indie films including Why Men Cheat and Holla If You Hear Me. Fans of those know exactly what to expect and probably won’t care too much.

Sad considering themes explored during the film’s short hour and twenty-five minute runtime. There’s a level of guiltlessness even in some of the more serious adult topics alluded to, pushing its PG rating. Many will also appreciate a romantic comedy of this type not bogged down by some extreme religious undertone, a rarity in a post-Tyler Perry world. There’s even a specific scene where Robert wittily responds that he “does less sinning than most of the members in your church” to Morgan’s question of his spiritual affiliation. Black Coffee’s final moment also ends abruptly as a clever twist comes off as haphazardly thrown together.

There are many positive aspects of Black Coffee. The problem is that its numerous amounts of negatives outweigh them. The idealistic charm is tarnished by weak acting, editing, story, and a host of other things.