Indie film 'Stacy Has a Thing for Black Guys' will make you laugh, but it'll also make you think.
When I decided to attend a screening of Stacy Has a Thing for Black Guys, I expected to be a voyeur to an awkward conversation about race and sex. But the new independent Dallas film, written and directed by Ruben Carrazana, took me on a different kind of journey.
To be honest, I felt uncomfortable from the opening scene, but I think that’s entirely the point. This intimate 3-hander delves deep, and quick, into the lengths we go to in order to please the people we love. The film takes a hard look at old-fashioned beliefs about the role of men and the role of women while simultaneously working to break those outdated beliefs, and the story’s lens can be unforgiving at times, even shocking.
I felt a little claustrophobic. The film is set in a small, trendy, perfectly decorated apartment. Under Jeffrey Bryant Moffitt’s eloquent and pointed design, there is an instant heaviness about the scene we encounter: a monochrome of blue and gold paired with weighty furniture and endless motivational word art wall pieces. Sweetie/Stacy, played by Anastasia Munoz, is even dressed in the blue and gold combo and I’m sure it’s no accident that it pairs well with the muted blue and tan of Honey/Howard, played by Brian Witkowicz. This young couple is all put together. Stacy is supportive and encouraging when Howard tells a story about a fight in a restaurant where he becomes an unlikely victor, and Howard wants only to please Stacy. Everything, it seems, is perfect.
All 3 actors have fabulous chemistry on screen. Munoz brings a grounded levity in the beginning of the night as the supportive and encouraging wife. As the story progresses and we see the truth come out, she delivers the character with exceptional nuance and sensitivity. The film is an emotional roller coaster of what happens underneath motivational quotes and expensive trinkets, but Munoz rides it all with ease. I was most affected by her demeanor in the latter half of the film. She was honest and vulnerable.
As Howard, Witkowicz is a force in the film. He presents the doting husband, fragile white male, and neurotic people-pleaser with a fierce determination to just do the right thing: to save his marriage, to prove he is worthy of it, and to establish a dominance he believes he’s earned. I didn’t know whether I should hate Howard or pity Howard, and again, I think that’s entirely the point. As Howard unravels, we see his shadow side up close and personal and Witkowicz makes it look easy.
Christopher Dontrell Piper as Mandingo/Mac, the guest of honor, comes across as quiet and submissive but proves to be quite the opposite. Piper’s Mac brings a compassion and humanity to the nuance of relationships, and the way we deny ourselves in the name of practical survival. He’s also a truth-teller and realist, especially when he decides to fight back against Howard’s prejudice. The character offers an unsettling balance and whether he is the equalizer or the tipping point should be determined by the viewer. I found Piper’s performance crucial to the film’s rhythm.
In its marketing, the movie is described as a cross between Get Out and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and overall, I’d say that’s a great hook. But we lose something as a viewer if we box the work into something that’s gone before. Stacy Has a Thing for Black Guys is a contemporary confrontation. It’s pertinent and important in its themes. Carrazana’s story incorporates elements of #metoo, the complications and nuances of marriage, the realities of race and white male fragility - all while making you laugh. I found myself laughing just to break the tension, or because I related to (or was embarrassed by) an uncomfortable truth. I laughed because the scenario, even in its absurdity, is so relatable. The bottom line: I’m still thinking about the film and contemplating where I fit into the themes.
Saturday night’s event was the film’s second screening. Filmed entirely in Dallas with a local crew, Stacy Has a Thing for Black Guys is planned for monthly screenings. Writer/Director Carrazana shared that they’re planning to partner with different organizations around the city, so keep your eye out for the next opportunity to see it. And make sure you try the lemonade.
To learn more about this independent film, visit stacyhasathingforblackguys.com, and find it on Facebook and Instagram under the same name.