DRAMA; 1hr 28min
STARRING: Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Shake, baby, shake: from left, Cheadle and Ejiofor
Ralph Waldo “Petey” Greene Jr (Cheadle) could be a hopped-up screenwriter’s invention. As a DJ in Washington, DC, in the inflammatory 1960s, Petey calls it as he sees it and then some. He is as flash as a one-man sideshow and Cheadle runs his mouth with cornsilk-smooth panache.
What’s more, Petey really did exist: born in DC in 1931 (he died of cancer in 1984), he was raised in hard times and wound up in prison on an armed-robbery conviction in 1960. In this gutsy, supportive Kasi Lemmons–directed biopic, Petey discovers deejaying through the prison PA and upon his release, wheedles radio station WOL-AM’s conservative program director Dewey Hughes (Ejiofor) — his soulmate beneath the surface, as it turns out — into giving him a go.
Wise move: the “all-round hustler with a PhD from the streets” is a pot-stirring phenomenon whose “Chocolate City” listeners love him. Talk to Me spans two decades of a friendship that challenges and elevates not only opposite numbers Petey and Dewey, but the thousands they touched along the way.