Unfair Exchange has the ingredients of an effective melodrama. The script by Charles Burgee and Steven Love features multiple romances and betrayals. The two leads, Ciera Angelia and Demaris Harvey, are ready for each tangled situation presented. Unfortunately, the direction by Love and Brandon Cornett doesn’t rise to the occasion, which gives the material little energy and style.
Cynthia (Angelia) is an attorney trying to help close a deal in Atlanta involving a friend of her husband named Chad (Jeremy Meeks). Her spouse, Isaac (Harvey), is experiencing writer’s block and suggests to Chad that he should seduce Cynthia in order to give Isaac a spark for his new book, Infidelity. An old flame, Terry (Erica Pinkett), soon gets caught up in the situation, making Isaac’s problems even more complicated.
A talented black main cast fills out Unfair Exchange, though some of the bit players stumble from time to time. Meeks has an intensity to his pale eyes, but he is less believable here than Angelia and Harvey. Those two make Cynthia and Isaac a realistic couple with their chemistry. They also have quiet moments of emotional pain alone that work. Pinkett is fun and charming as Terry.
“…he should seduce Cynthia in order to give Isaac a spark for his new book...”
The music helps breathe some occasional life into the proceedings, too. From the piano score to R&B song choices, the music assembled by Love, Chris Godxilla Taylor, and Treva Taylor fits their respective scenes. One sequence at a restaurant during the night, particularly stands out.
Despite a few decent factors, Unfair Exchange never takes off at all. Only the final few minutes gain momentum, but that comes at the cost of the script employing an unbelievable scene involving a death. Most of the time, things feel stagnant. Burgee and Love, who also acted as the cinematographer, never get the camera moving in scenes, and the blocking of the actors is ordinary. The blank white walls of most of the locations don’t do them any favors either.
Some of Burgee’s choices as the editor are inexcusable. Shots with shadows of boom mics are kept in, and a couple of the scenes end with the camera wobbling as a take finishes. Such errors make this feel like a rough cut rather than a final polished product.
Angelia and Harvey just might be stars on the rise. They provide this romantic, dramatic thriller with their best efforts. The labyrinthine script is given flat execution by Cornett and Love, though, leaving Unfair Exchange as an unfair viewing experience.
"…Angelia and Harvey just might be stars on the rise."