The transition from girlhood to womanhood ain’t so pretty. Shit, black girls often get stripped of their childhood and catapulted into adulthood before they turn 15. Yet, the adultification of black girls doesn’t take their very real innocence away—nor does it absolve them of the growing pains of that very complicated journey called love, whether it with someone else or with self. It can be said that love is one of the very things that propel them forward.
Rashad Ernesto Green-directed “Premature” follows 18-year old Ayanna the summer before she goes to college. Love is already seemingly teaching her it’s as rough as it is beautiful, but the interest of an older suitor makes the teen willing to take another chance. A love story at it’s finest, a retelling of many teenage girls’ struggle with maneuvering a relationship when your partner changes their mind.
Isaiah makes Zora feel love in a way you can tell she’s never felt love before. His passion for music and vulnerability in discussing family traumas are only two things that take Zora on a thrill most viewers can attest to—when your heart warms just as much as quick as Spring turns Summer. Soft tones in most every scene make evident the butterflies she feels as Summer moves closer to Autumn. It also takes us through the motions as Zora is faced with a truly adult decision that could impact the future of her relationship and her life.
“Premature” offered a breath of fresh air I didn’t know I needed. Falling in what I thought was love as I transitioned from high school to college was an impactful experience. A feeling of adulthood overwhelmed me when I really didn’t understand what love really was. The sheer amount of younger twenty-something guys approaching teen girls fills me with discomfort. It was difficult to watch reflected back at me on screen. The discomfort was a bit tough to shake during the film, especially as Zora tried to navigate so many complexities on her own.
A strenuous relationship with her mom, and a strong relationship with her girl friends is a familiar theme, yet the imagery and depth of Zora’s story ensures Premature stands out on its own. When we find Zora at her lowest, her mom is there for her despite their challenges, and like real friends, when Zora isn’t showing up for herself, her besties are there to call her out on it.
Though not parallel, this tidbit of Zora’s story felt very reflective of a time in many young girls’ lives where the newsness and urgency of loving another person feels more important, and palpable, than what could potentially lie ahead in their own lives.
This romance asks us reflect on how we’ve shown up in love, how love has been presented to us and how we want to show up for real companionship in romantic, platonic and familial relationships.
Viewed as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival 2019