One of the darlings out of this year’s Sundance was “The Forty-Year-Old Version,” written, directed and starring newcomer Radha Blank about a 40-year-old playwright who turns to rapping after her career has stagnated.
The movie won the dramatic directing award for Blank at Sundance, and after the film was picked up by Netflix, it served as her own discovery story. In her rapping, she finds new life and a voice that should make even the millennials sit up and take notice.
“Why my skin so dry, why am I yawning right now, why those AARP n—ers sending s— to my house, this is 40,” she raps. She’s got some flow, but the movie finds some humor in the blank stares she gets when she tells people that she needs some “beats” and “tracks” and wants to make this a thing.
Blank’s story casts her as a woman who previously won a 30 Under 30 award as a rising playwright but still hasn’t quite made it, and now as she tries to teach other kids of the craft, they wonder why they should take advice from someone who hasn’t done anything.
The real Blank has a similar trajectory in how she’s written for shows like “Empire” and “She’s Gotta Have It” and how she’s made her own separate career out of doing hip hop comedy under the name RadhaMUSprime. Her script for “The 40-Year-Old Version” was first selected by Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Lab in 2017, and three years later, now she’s here.
Blank also produced the film and is joined on it by Lena Waithe, as well as Jordan Fudge, Inuka Bacote-Capiga, Jennifer Semler and Rishi Rajani. The film co-stars Peter Kim, Oswin Benjamin, Imani Lewis, Haskiri Velazquez, Antonio Ortiz, TJ Atoms, Jacob Ming Trent, Stacey Sargeant, William Oliver Watkins, Meghan O’Neill, André Ward, Welker White and Reed Birney.
The film drops on Netflix on October 9. Check out the first trailer for “The Forty-Year-Old Version” above (via Vulture).
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