Speak Up Brotha! Image

Speak Up Brotha!

By Alan Ng | June 8, 2023

Wes Andre Goodrich directs the story of a young man who can’t utter a word but has so much to say in the short film, Speak Up Brotha!. Roderick Lawrence is Ahmad, a man who suffers from deep anxiety when forced to interact with strangers in the outside world. The film opens at Ahmad’s therapy session, where he has nothing to say, but in his mind, he ironically glides into thoughtful spoken-word poetry about that which holds him back in expressing his thoughts and feelings.

Later, Ahmad is working as a rideshare driver and picks up his next passenger, Mina (Toni Lachelle Pollitt). Transfixed by her beauty, Ahmad’s heart swoons a bit just before slamming the brakes to avoid an accident. After apologizing, he turns on some tunes, and the two share a soulful moment. Then before he can ask her a question, she exits his car.

On the court, Ahmad is ragged on by his best friends, Jabari (Alphonso Walker Jr.) and Meek (Justin Winley), about the greatest missed opportunity of Ahmad’s life. But he receives a text that can change things around. Mina texts him that she left her book in Ahmad’s car and needs him to return it.

“…ironically glides into thoughtful spoken-word poetry about that which holds him back…”

From my point-of-view as an introvert, what stands out the most about Speak Up Brotha! is the dichotomy between the lead’s interior and exterior lives. Ahmad’s anxiety-ridden and can’t speak a word without suffering a panic attack, but he has the most profound thoughts of life and love swirling in his brain. The film harps on the idea that those who don’t speak have the most to say, and what they have to say is most profound.

Lawrence gives a fantastic performance as Ahmad. He captures the introvert so well in his physical performance until he has the opportunity to turn up the gas and become an accomplished beat poet. To my fellow introverts, you know this exact feeling. As Mina, Toni Lachelle Pollitt plays the sweet and touching counter to Ahmad and recites an equally soulful spoken word near the end.

Speaking of spoken word, the poetry written by Obbie West is on point, delivering the right impact for both Ahmad and Mina. Poetry is sometimes complicated for audiences to wrap their heads around, but Speak Up Brotha! delivers clean, profound, and insightful comments for the average audience. Goodrich’s direction only enhances the story’s tone and poetry being told.

For screening information, visit the Speak Up Brotha! official website.

Speak Up Brotha! (2023)

Directed: Wes Andre Goodrich

Written: Roderick Lawrence, Obbie West, James J. Johnson

Starring: Roderick Lawrence, Terrence "TC" Carson, Madeline Grey DeFreece, Alphonso Walker Jr., Toni Lachelle Pollitt, Justin Winley, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Speak Up Brotha! Image

"…those who don't speak have the most to say, and what they have to say is most profound."

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