In this “Did he or didn’t he” film, a social media influencer falls for a young man who may have killed his teacher, but the evidence is slim against him.
|Screenplay By||DeShon Hardy|
|Date Released (BET Plus)||February 16, 2023|
|Genre(s)||Action, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Romance, Thriller, Young Adult|
|Duration||1 Hour 28 Minutes|
|Lori Tumbler||Lauren Buglioli|
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Diamond is an up-and-coming social media influencer who, after a DUI, finds herself losing her connections and her parents, her mother especially, getting fed up. Enter Sadiq, a man who DMs her about his situation, and as she is fighting her DUI case, she uses what money she has left to pay her lawyer, Casaundra, to appeal Sadiq’s. This leads to her getting some clout, even infamously being compared to Kim Kardashian, but as time passes and multiple people pop out of the woodwork, so comes the question of what truly happened that afternoon when Lori Tumbler died.
Things To Note
Why Is “Under His Influence” Rated TV-MA
- Dialog: Cursing throughout
- Violence: Gun Violence, Domestic Violence, Blood
- Sexual Content: Brief Nudity
- Miscellaneous: Drinking
Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.
A social media influencer who is starting to get very messy, Diamond eventually hits rock bottom after a DUI and, through Sadiq, finds not only the potential path to redemption but also a boyfriend.
- You May Also Know The Actor From Being: Jannelle Wesley in the upcoming “A Wesley Christmas Wedding,” LaWanda in “BMF,” and Vanessa in “First Wives Club.”
Accused of murder when he was 17, Sadiq is now 27 years old, reaching out to Diamond, hoping her platform can bring attention to his case and get him his freedom.
- You May Also Know The Actor From Being: Quintrell in “Twenties” and Rob in “The Chi.”
Casaundra is the lawyer for Diamond’s family.
- You May Also Know The Actor From Being: Dominique Deveraux in “Dynasty,” Darlene in “Queen Sugar,” and Ayanna Floyd in “Star.”
Lori was a teacher and tutor of Sadiq before she was murdered.
- You May Also Know The Actor From Being: Dana Murphy in “Queens,” Margaret in “A Jazzman’s Blues,” and Heather in the upcoming “Cinnamon.”
Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)
Iman Shumpert’s Charm
Iman Shumpert is one charming man, and it is more so that than Sadiq’s murder appeal that has you rooting for his character. For the way he looks at Mitchell, it will make you wish SO BADLY this was a romance or a romantic comedy. Truly, between Shumpert’s performance in this film and “The Chi,” he could easily be the man over 6 feet tall so many dream about.
This Extended Interview Segment With Young Joc
Halfway through the movie, Young Joc interviews Diamond and Sadiq, and it is the driest conversation you have likely ever heard in the movie. It brings things to a complete halt and even diminishes the chemistry between Diamond and Sadiq because the whole interview is terrible.
On The Fence
The struggle we have with the twist is the execution is a little bit off. Some random White man threatens Sadiq’s life, and we never see him again. But then some random woman keeps showing up at Diamond’s home, and you’re left wondering how she gets all the way up to the window with no one seeing her? Especially considering Diamond’s family seems to have a RING bell, so you’d think the cops would have been called.
After all, Casaundra warned Diamond that appealing the case of a Black boy, Sadiq was 17 when Lori was killed, who allegedly killed a White woman, would cause a ruckus. Yet, no police were called, no security hired, Diamond was just left to deal with the can of worms she opened.
So, getting back to the big reveal, as much as you can recognize the emotional weight it could hold, it falls flat. It does regarding why the woman is upset with Sadiq, and in terms of the truth of what Sadiq did or did not do, it doesn’t add the layers you may want to expect to make his character, and the situation, far more complicated.
Investment Into Diamond’s Story
Unfortunately, Sydney Mitchell doesn’t match Iman Shumpert’s energy. Part of it is due to the writing. “Under His Influence” has Diamond fit the nauseating persona many critics of influencers paint them as. But what doesn’t help is that her character is consumed by all her scene partners.
Sadiq’s storyline eclipses her. All the people who come out of the woodwork because of Sadiq’s case being appealed pull all your attention towards them. Even Casaundra, as she goes back and forth with the district attorney, who was Sadiq’s lawyer, draws you in more than anything Diamond says or does.
Thus making it so, ultimately, Diamond is just the middle person for far more interesting stories.
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