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Review: 'The Obituary Of Tunde Johnson' is Highly Charged, Intelligent Storytelling

by Kilian Melloy
Saturday Nov 28, 2020
'The Obituary of Tunde Johnson'
'The Obituary of Tunde Johnson'  

Writer Stanley Kalu and director Ali LeRoy bring fresh life to the "Groundhog Day" movie genre with the piercing, effective drama "The Obituary of Tunde Johnson."

Tunde Johnson (Steven Silver) is 18 and trying to figure out his life. College looms, which means that he will have to leave lifelong friends like bestie Marley (Nicola Peltz). He has to figure out how to deal with the fact that the guy he loves - classmate Soren (Spencer Neville), the son of a conservative TV commentator - refuses to come out and publicly acknowledge their relationship. For that matter, Tunde has to figure out when and how to tell his own parents that he's gay. As if all that's not enough, he finds himself living the same day over and over again - a day that follows various twists and turns, and yet keeps ending with his death at the hands of authority figures like the police or security guards.

As Tunde experiences the same day over and over again - repeating some moments, while others are entirely new - the choices he makes in dealing with each of his dilemmas affect all the other challenges he's facing. The way those decisions reverberate and reshuffle the possibilities before him elevate this film from the standard repeating day trope to a new, more highly charged and intelligent level of dramatic storytelling.

"The Obituary of Tunde Johnson" screens virtually on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 12 am as part of the OUTShine Film Festival. Click here for more information.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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