Never Heard – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Title card for the film Never Heard.
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While Never Heard does let a character’s potential fall through the cracks, it’s use of faith and the challenges of fatherhood give reason to check this out.


Director(s) Josh Webber
Written By Tamera Hill
Date Released 11/16/2018
Genre(s) Drama
Good If You Like Urban Dramas

Movies In Which Faith Is A Strong Element

Films Focusing On Family Reconciling

Noted Cast
Aaron David Banner
Shala Robin Givens
Jalen Romeo Miller
Camilla Karen Abercrombie
Paris Karrueche Tran
Diggy Dijon Talton
Monty Dorien Wilson
Herself Sheryl Brady

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Summary (Ending on 2nd Page)

For more than a decade Aaron has been separated from his mom, now former wife Shala, and his son Jalen. The reason? He was convicted of killing an elderly woman and a child. Yet, he claims innocence and has for his entire time in prison. However, not many believed him so he rotted. Thus leaving the streets to raise his son or, more so, Shala and a series of men who, often to get closer to her, played house for a bit. Leaving Jalen scared a little bit and, unfortunately, following in his dad’s footsteps.

Yet, with the introduction of Paris in his life, a church girl his grandmother, Camilla, teaches music to, things begin to turn around. However, in trying to leave his past behind he leaves his former partner, Diggy, on his own. Leaving him to face their supplier who wants his money or a body for with Diggy needing money bad, he got in over his head. Thus placing him at a crossroad where he’ll either end up dead, in jail, or with a weight on his conscious weighing around 160 or 170 pounds.

Highlights

The Preaching

Sheryl Brady preaching.
Sheryl Brady: Transitions are not fun and they are not easy.

I don’t know if Tamera Hill wrote the sermons, or it was the people playing the pastors, who apparently are in real life, but when I say they will have you acting up like you’re Baptist – that isn’t an embellishment at all. For one thing about movies which strongly input a character’s, or characters’ faith is that they don’t make the gospel that interesting. However, what the white pastor notes about being marked and some of the other topics in the 3+ sermons we hear, they touch your heart.

I’m talking, they go beyond just addressing the characters and if you are open, they may seem like they are meant for you. Which may sound weird but if you got any sort of affinity for religion or spirituality, you’d be hard pressed to not hear the word this film has and not feel something. Even if it is something you may need to pass along to someone you know.

Forgive Your Father

Aaron (David Banner) and Jalen (Romeo Miller) realizing they have similar mannerisms.
Aaron (David Banner) and Jalen (Romeo Miller)

One of the big things this film pushes is how fallible fathers can be. Whether it is because they were about that life, as Diggy and Jalen’s dads were, or them working so hard to be the provider that they forget that is but one aspect of being a dad. An issue Paris has with her dad Monty. With bringing about these different examples of Black fathers, you get to see this movie isn’t about throwing dirt on Aaron for what he did, nor Diggy’s. Also, it isn’t trying to make Monty some respectable dad for them to look towards, or even you as a viewer. Instead, what is presented is how difficult it can be to be a good father.

Why? Well, for some, they didn’t have an example in their own life so they are learning as they go. Maybe taking cue from friends or media and doing their best. For others, in their mind, a roof, electricity, and food should be enough. Them not hustling and bringing trouble home. In a way, what this film gives fatherhood is the complication we often see in motherhood. The idea that being everything to a person is an impossible task and no matter how much you try, you are going to fail at something. However, what matters is you being as consistent as possible in trying. For, in the long run, it’s the effort that counts. Even if, in the beginning, your efforts were understood because it meant your kid, even the child’s mother, may not have understood why you made certain decisions.

A Different Kind of Drug Dealer

While Jalen and Diggy were drug dealers, and Diggy was also dealing hard drugs, you have to love how we also go to see a soft side to them. For Diggy, it was him trying to help his mom, even if sometimes it was by enabling her and looking out for his little brother. Then for Jalen, him opening up to Paris, especially about this very uncomfortable situation he had as a kid, it presented a different narrative to the life of drug dealers. One which may not have been played up too much, but still feels noteworthy.

Criticism

The Film Dropped The Ball When It Came To Paris

Paris (Karrueche Tran) sitting by herself.
Paris (Karrueche Tran)

Paris and Monty have a strained relationship because Monty sees Paris’ mother when he looks at her. Thus, he works harder to provide for her but doesn’t really spend quality time. Now, in the film, we see Aaron and Jalen go on a journey but the same can’t be said for Paris and Monty. That is the first way this film drops the ball with Paris.

The second way is through us perhaps seeing Paris sing in the choir and understand why her faith is so important. For while many times it is the young woman who is the religious ones in this, with her mother dying so young, it would have opened the opportunity for us to understand why that didn’t break her. How could a young woman like her not lose faith when one of the most important people in her life was taken from her at the age of 12? Right on the cusp of when she’d need her the most.

Lastly, the film also drops the ball in showing how Paris inspired Jalen to turn his life around. Though that part is a bit more complicated. If only because Jalen downplays Shala being a good mom by noting she doesn’t say “I love you” enough and apparently doesn’t ask how his day was. Something that you kind of feel the need to side eye yet, who knows, maybe Jalen is sensitive and needs that kind of affection in his life.

Refocusing on Paris though, it becomes clear that they there is a mutual desire for them to compensate for what their parents don’t currently give them. Be it quality time, checking in on one another, and a lot of simple stuff most take for granted. Which, so it seems, leads to them being in a relationship. But, unfortunately, we don’t see them develop as a couple. Likely because it would make the film too bloated, you get this vibe that a lot of Paris’ scenes with Jalen likely were cut to focus more on his story and her part in it got minimized. Which is a damn shame since Tran is, arguably, the strongest actor in the film so she seems low-key wasted.

Diggy’s Story and His Family

In the end, Diggy’s whole story is about creating the endgame conflict. However, until you realize that, there is this need to question why wasn’t this role cut before filming? If not cut in favor of more Paris? Not to sound like a Karrueche stan but nothing about Diggy’s story of the performances dealing with his plot give much to this movie. What this character brings is this film down a notch and makes it seem like your generic, bargain bin faith movies that you only hear about if it somehow ends up on Netflix and is recommended to you.

For truly, you can imagine most of Diggy’s storyline being absorbed into Jalen’s and making this probably a bit more dramatic, but definitely less lopsided.

Overall: Mixed (Divisive) | Purchase Or Rent On (Amazon)

Paris (Karrueche Tran) and Jalen (Romeo Miller) sitting together, learning about each other's issues.
Paris (Karrueche Tran) and Jalen (Romeo Miller)

For me, this was the type of film which, at first, I thought it was worth rating positive. However, the high this film gave me dropped as soon as I thought thinking about the negatives. Be it Diggy’s story or how Paris deserved better, there went any means of justifying this as worth seeing. Yet, which led this to be mixed, and not falling all the way to being marked negative, was the preaching and the fatherhood aspect of the film. Those two elements compensate for the weaker parts of the film and the disappointment of Paris being built up and then benched for most of the movie.


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