As one of the greatest, most real, blackest romance films, Love Jones turns 25 today (March 14), not only are we remembering love, but also celebrating it. We celebrate this nuanced and powerful emotion in all its complexity from hopeful to crazy to slow-burning and the endless possibilities for romance.
The 1997 romantic dramedy stars an ensemble cast featuring Nia Long, Larenz Tate, Isaiah Washington, Lisa Nicole Carson, Bill Bellamy, Leonard Roberts, Bernadette L. Clarke, and Khalil Kain. The feature film debut from Chicago-bred writer/director Theodore Witcher was his grand opening and closing all at once as more than two decades later the masterpiece remains his sole feature-length directorial credit.
Love Jones follows Gordon Parks-influenced photographer Nina Mosley as she cautiously embarks on a journey of singledom when she meets Darius Lovehall, a charming, buoyant writer at a Chicago nightclub. The two unexpectedly albeit reluctantly—especially on Nina’s part—start a romance where, with the “help” of their friends’ varying advice and interference, the two explore the depths of “just kickin’ it” versus choosing (or accepting?) something more serious.
The warm-hued film is accompanied by an enchanting soundtrack that showcases an eclectic mix of neo-soul, R&B, and jazz, including music from Maxwell, Lauryn Hill, Xscape, Groove Theory, Kenny Lattimore, Duke Ellington, and more.
Love Jones opens with Dionne Farris’ “Hopeless” as the backdrop to a black-and-white montage of life in inner-city Chicago, the scene ending with an image of a heartbroken and guarded Nina, who’s given up on love, looking out the window at the pouring rain. By the end of the film, she finally learns to embrace true love and has a renewed outlook on the feeling. And, what’s the ultimate sign of true Black love? When a sista is willing to get her freshly permed or pressed hair soaked in the rain for a romantic kiss under the moonlight.
As we reflect on Love Jones, we honor some of the lines, scenes, and songs that remind us of love’s urgency and that “it ain’t supposed to make sense—love, passion, it is what it is.”