‘Lemon’ Director Janicza Bravo On Navigating The Industry As Woman of Color [Interview]
Filmmaker Janicza Bravo offers more than what meets the eye in her sit-down chat about Lemon with Okayplayer.
Lemon, an absurd, blue-black comedy by theater director turned film director Janicza Bravo, is more than what meets the eye. The movie centers around Isaac (Brett Gelman, Bravo’s husband and co-screenplay writer), a theater teacher and failing commercial actor who stumbles and fumbles his way through Los Angeles after his girlfriend of 10 years (the incomparable Judy Greer) dumps him. You’d be forgiven for thinking this movie belongs in the so-called “mumblecore” genre of dramedy, which largely centers around schlubby, self-obsessed white guys who we are supposed to find charming, even while they give us few reasons to do so.
Instead Lemon is a tart and well-observed analysis of how whiteness operates, a rarity in a field where whiteness is so often treated as neutral and therefore not worthy of closer examination. Any person of color who has found themselves in a room that is predominately white will find a sort of dark humor in the obnoxious questions and observations Isaac blurts out to his new love interest, a stylist named Cleo (played with warmth and charm by Nia Long, who almost wasn’t in the film) who he meets on the set of a commercial.
Lemon is one of those rare gems of a film that is truly, and wholly original, and makes me eager to see what Bravo will release next. Bravo was kind enough to grant an interview to @Okayplayer, where she reveals the motivations behind Lemon and what it has been like to navigate the film industry as a woman of color.
The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.