Rihanna Robyn Fenty is in a new movie. Yes, you heard that right, Rihanna- fashion killa, beauty mogul, not-giving-us-any-new music, Rihanna- is in a tropical thriller, Guava Island, alongside Donald Glover that premiered this past Saturday at Coachella. Fans of both Glover and Fenty had mixed reactions to the news and mixed reviews of the movie. As much as I love Rihanna and am solidly a part of the #Navy, I can admit that she’s not the greatest actress to ever grace the big screen. She wasn’t the worst in Ocean’s 8, Home was cute, and Battleship— we don’t even have to get into that.
Based on the premise of the film, Rihanna is basically playing herself and that can’t go wrong right? So you’d think. Her performance was pretty lackluster and led to why another important part of this film’s makeup–chemistry– wasn’t really working. Maybe. Are we really supposed to buy that a goddess like Rihanna would fall in love with and date the charming, (but kind of odd?) Donald Glover? They certainly didn’t help persuade us.
Their chemistry wasn’t the most believable thing I’ve ever witnessed (I mean not even in the slightest), but it was great to watch Rihanna’s character, Kofi, interact with Glover’s Deni. The movie begins with opening illustration and narration from Kofi, giving the backdrop and insight into Guava Island and its people. I could have lived without it. I find storybook opening narration lazy, and would have appreciated learning about the plot as it unfolded. Alas, we’re introduced to Kofi and Deni’s love and the scenario that has led to the current predicament of Guava’s inhabitants.
The people of Guava work seven days a week producing the silk of the crayworm; silk so blue and magical that can only be found on Guava. Red (the bad guy) controls all of the silk production and is the reason for the abhorrent lack of work/life balance on Guava. Deni, the island’s premier musician, has a huge issue with this and decides to throw a festival to remind everyone to enjoy life.
There are many scenes that lead to song numbers throughout the movie, which would lead you to believe that the film is a musical, when it’s much more like a really long music video. The movie felt like the long-form music video format that many artists have become fond of lately– Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer, Beyonce’s Lemonade, Solange’s When I Get Home, Tierra Whack’s Whack World, etc.– than an actual film. That coupled with the limited amount of actual speaking made the movie more fun (ish) than truly thought-provoking.
Donald Glover’s Deni, did most of the performing- singing some of his great jams from last year like, “This Is America” (it barely fits) and “Summertime Magic” (it fit more). I really would have loved to hear Rihanna sing though. Just a chirp. Just a tweet. Something.
That being said, the storyline was warming, inspiring, and completely predictable. Deni is told not to hold the festival by the island’s dictator aptly named Red, Kofi finds out she’s pregnant, Deni holds the festival anyways, Deni is shot and killed. The people don’t go to work the next day regardless.
It was cute. It wasn’t the most groundbreaking thing I’ve ever seen and it was barely a good storyline. It’s the perfect thing to watch while you do something else. I hope to see more short films like it, but with much more Rihanna (and better acting obviously).