Lyle (Amaru Cheatom) and Nina (Trae Harris) are lost, their ambitions hazy silhouettes within a thick cloud of marijuana smoke. Living with a constant high works for the couple; they can float through the daily grind, bond with outsiders over their shared habits and return home for a night of existential rambling. That’s a life—until it suddenly isn’t. Lighting up, it seems, eventually means burning out.
Like its characters, writer-director Shaka King’s film meanders from one stony moment to the next; when a dream-filled smoke break transforms Lyle’s repo job into a blaxploitation short film, it feels more like killing time than cracking the guy’s problem. There’s chemistry between the two leads that’s enveloped in the movie’s 1990s New York indie vibe, but King can’t cut through his duo’s surface-level obsessions. Weed-fueled existence sends the two spiraling downward, yet when addiction cripples them, the monkey on their backs feels as insignificant as an earlier throwaway gag involving pepper spray to the eyes. Newlyweeds looks and sounds primo. Storytelling-wise, however, it’s more than one toke over the line.
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Cast and crew