Talk to Me (15)

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The Independent Culture

This biopic of the convicted felon-turned-Washington DC DJ Ralph Waldo "Petey" Green offers Don Cheadle the chance to show off his chops as a prototype shock-jock and a key figure in the emergent black consciousness of the late 1960s. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Dewey Hughes, the uptight director at radio station WOL-AM who first meets Petey in jail while he's visiting his brother, then reluctantly tries him out behind the microphone. A partnership is born, as Petey makes his name as a local provocateur, while Dewey works their route towards their big break of a slot on the Johnny Carson show.

Energetically directed by Kasi Lemmons, the film keeps tripping over its identity problem, unsure as to whether it's a buddy movie, a rise-and-fall drama or an investigation of race. But thanks to Cheadle's humorous command in the central role it never wholly squanders the goodwill it accrues. It also makes him a shoo-in for when they make the Richard Pryor story.