Nicole Sylvester makes a charming directorial debut with Maya and Her Lover from Come Monday Productions. Ashanti J’Aria portrays Maya Trudeau, a single woman in her thirties, amidst an emotional crisis. She is educated, financially stable, and utterly disillusioned with life. An introvert, she lives vicariously through her best friend and wastes time online.
That is until she takes a lover, Kaseem (Shomari Love), a 22-year-old pizza deliveryman big on ideas but short on execution. His game is clumsy but endearing. Maya is flattered that such a young man is into her. He's edgy and a little bit dangerous, but to Maya's surprise, she likes it - a lot. Nicole Sylvester introduces us to Maya after a tryst with a much older man who doesn’t appear to give Maya what she needs.
I felt that it was a great introduction to the character and set the tone for the rest of the film. Before Maya meets Kaseem, director and writer Nicole Sylvester taps into the psyche of Maya and allows us to see why the character is naturally likable. In our lead role, Ashanti J’Aria has an organic chemistry flow with her best friend Tracey (Faiven Feshazion), a coffee shop owner Babatunde (Al Thompson), and an overly flirty elderly neighbor by the name of Fred Ross (Roland Sands).
So when Maya meets Kaseem, I understand their mutual attraction as it goes against the social norms. The duo has great chemistry and plays well off of each other. What I liked most about Sylvester's script is the realism it brings. For example, Kaseem attempts to pay on their first date with wads of wrinkly balled-up cash. Both the waitress and Maya give him the side-eye and the moments works well.
I also liked Shomari Love’s portrayal of Kaseem as he brings the right amount of arrogance and brashness to the character. Concurrently Ashanti J’Aria is just a joy to watch in the lead role, and hopefully, this opens up more doors for her. Nicole Sylvester keeps the plot moving along rather nicely and does enough to explain why Maya became an introvert. A few plot points I would've liked to see expanded out, specifically Maya's relationship with her brother.
Nevertheless, Maya and Her Lover is a charming debut from Nicole Sylvester, and I look forward to her next project.
Final Grade: B