Writer-director Paige B. Alston’s Meeting Boone follows Boone (Sean-Vaughn) as he’s trying to get his life back in order after getting released from prison. Unfortunately, Boone’s brother dies, sending him on a dangerous downward spiral. His boss at the funeral home tries to help him the best he can, but Boone feels overwhelmed as he knows his sibling did not die by suicide, as so many believe.
But, a chance encounter with a 23-year-old woman brings a long-lost light into Boone’s life. Said lady, Lalia (DeCarla Strong), who is 10-years his junior, is still grieving for her father and was best friends with Boone’s brother. In each other, these two find the solace they both desperately crave. Unfortunately, this burgeoning relationship is looked down on by Lalia’s sister, who still sees her as a child.
Alston is not shy about her intentions with Meeting Boone. While the plot synopsis doesn’t hint at it, the film is a faith-based drama. Laila helps teach Sunday school; there are several conversations about God having one’s back (mainly between the two sisters); discussions regularly revolve around faith and religion. Happily, the filmmaker knows how trite and obnoxious the usual Christian-centered offerings are and gives audiences something more authentic and inspiring. See, the screenplay is not just preaching to the choir for easy brownie points, like the terrible God’s Not Dead series does.
“…a chance encounter with a 23-year-old woman brings a long-lost light into Boone’s life.”
No, Alston wants to show how faith in God, oneself, friends, and family gives a person strength and hope when they need it most. As such, she is able to offer something for all audience members, not just believers. The main arc of Laila and Boone trying to help each other through unimaginable pain proves compelling. The screenplay finds a natural rhythm to the beats of their relationship, knowing that real life is messy even when people are trying to do the right thing.
But, that isn’t to say there aren’t issues. The tensions between Lalia and her older sister, which involve a miscarriage and a failed marriage, seem to come out of nowhere. These revelations don’t inform much about the sister in any tangible way. Then the other sister, maybe she’s their aunt, shows up. This character actually plays a pivotal role at the end but is never set up well and just materializes when needed. On top of that, it is not clear if she’s the eldest of three siblings or related in some other way. But, as frustrating as that can get at times, it does not undercut the film’s overall power.
The primary reason Meeting Boone works is due to the cast. Strong is remarkable, bringing the right amount of confidence and insecurity, and sadness to the role. Sean-Vaughn is effortlessly charming, making it easy to understand what Lalia sees in Boone. Their chemistry is excellent as well, further cementing the relationship at the core of the film.
Running slightly over an hour-and-a-half, Meeting Boone could bolster itself by being a bit longer, adding more context to certain relationships or people in the narrative. But, in only her third feature-length effort (including one made-for-TV title), Paige B. Alston proves she understands the big emotions that transform a person, for good and bad. Moreover, she gets convincing performances from her leads, anchoring the story in all the best ways.
For more information, check out the official site of Meeting Boone.
"…gets convincing performances from her leads..."