Review: The Forty-Year-Old Version

Radha Blank in The Forty-Year-Old Version

The Forty-Year-Old Version is a powerhouse comedy from Radha Blank. According to IMDB, Blank has been writing, producing, acting, and directing for years. She put all that skill and knowledge together in this film about a woman facing forty and dealing with a world full of nothing good. There are some spoilers ahead.

The Forty-Year-Old Version, as you probably got from the intro, was written, directed, produced by, and stars Radha Blank.

Radha is the character’s name. Radha can’t get her writing produced. She teaches playwriting to high school kids to pay the rent. Her mother died recently and she ignores calls from her brother about cleaning out her mom’s apartment. And she’s about to turn 40. It’s like that.

One night she’s standing in front of her mirror in her tiny apartment and starts rapping about being 40. It’s good and she knows it. She used to rhyme back in high school when her gay best friend Archie (Peter Y. Kim) was pretending to be her boyfriend.

These days Archie is a successful agent, and Rahda is his client. Archie has a Broadway producer, J Whitman (Reed Birney), interested in one of her scripts. She knows what will happen to her script in the hands of a white man (with a white director, to make it worse) but she’s desperate enough to agree to a deal. She takes their notes, changes her play until it’s unrecognizable, and suffers in silence.

While this is happening she seeks out a young guy named D (Oswin Benjamin) who makes beats. She found him on Instagram. She goes into his hotbox of an apartment and falls asleep after breathing the air. On her next trip, when the air is clearer, she records a rap to one of D’s beats.

He recognizes that she’s good; she’s got something unique. He asks her what she wants to do. She says she wants to make a mixtape. Hahahaha – a mixtape – that might as well be the eighty-year-old version.

D gets her a gig and she freezes. She never says anything but “yo” until they turn off the beat and take her off the stage. D takes her to see a bunch of women rappers who battle it out with their words in a boxing ring. That encourages her. D encourages her.

The climax comes when Radha takes to a microphone and discusses FYOV: Find Your Own Voice. (Or, alternatively, the Forty-Year-Old Version.)

Radha Blank has a voice worth hearing, that’s obvious from this comedy. I hope Netflix and all the other folks who backed her on this film snap her up for future projects.

Poster for The Forty-Year-Old Version

Check out the trailer.

Have you seen The Forty-Year-Old Version? What was your impression of it?

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