It is Theodore Witcher's only directorial work to date.
In Chicago, Darius Lovehall (Larenz Tate) is a poet who is giving a reading at the Sanctuary, an upscale nightclub presenting jazz and poetry to a bohemian clientele.
As their relationship develops, we see it in the context of the world they live in, a world of African-American artists, writers, teachers and intellectuals.
Witcher's screenplay is not content to move from A to B to love.
I just think it shows realistically what romance and especially black romance is all about.
His moves are smooth: He meets her, walks to the mike, and retitles his poem "A Blues for Nina,'' reading it to her across the smoky room. "Maybe next week you'll write something for me,'' he says. This nicely turns the gender tables on the famous "Blow Up" scene where the photographer made love through his camera.
They embody qualities we associate with Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington: They're fresh, have a sense of humor, and are almost implausibly good-looking.
It's hard to believe that Tate--so smooth, literate and attractive here--played the savage killer O-Dog in "Menace II Society." Nia Long was Brandi, one of the girl friends, in "Boyz N the Hood." "Love Jones'' extends their range, to put it mildly. You can see Loop skyscrapers in the backgrounds of a lot of shots, so you know this is Chicago, but movies haven't shown us these neighborhoods before.
"Love Jones'' is a love story set in the world of Chicago's middle-class black artists and professionals--which is to say, it shows a world more unfamiliar to moviegoers than the far side of the moon. This is the first movie in a while where the guy quotes Mozart, and the girl tells him he's really thinking of Shaw. The film's writer-director, Theodore Witcher, says he wanted to suggest a modern Chicago version of the Harlem Renaissance, but this is the 1920s filtered through modern eyes, and some of the parties they attend have conversation that sounds like hip campus faculty talk. She's on the rebound from her last man, and tells Darius "the timing is bad,'' but it starts looking pretty good.
The movie stars Nia Long as Nina, a professional photographer, and Larenz Tate as Darius, a novelist. The relationship between Darius and Nina proceeds, but not smoothly. And their chemistry, as characters and actors, is hot.