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The Forty-Year-Old Version dvd

Radha is a down-on-her-luck NY playwright, who is desperate for a breakthrough before 40. Reinventing herself as rapper RadhaMUSPrime, she vacillates between the worlds of Hip Hop and theater in order to find her true voice.


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The Forty-Year-Old Version is a 2020 American comedy film written, directed, and produced by Radha Blank, in her feature directorial debut. It stars Blank, Peter Kim, Oswin Benjamin, and Reed Birney.


Radha is a playwright and teacher nearing her 40th birthday and living under the burden of the unfulfilled promise of a 30 under 30 award she won nearly a decade ago. Archie, her agent and friend, gives her latest play Harlem Ave to J. Whitman, a wealthy white producer, who suggests her work needs to focus more on Black suffering. After he offers her a job writing for a Harriet Tubman musical, Radha throttles him. At a loss over what to do with her career, she hears rap music blasting outside her apartment and is inspired to start writing raps, following a passion she developed and abandoned in high school. Tracking down D, a music producer, she invents the name RadhaMUSprime. Her agent believes she is going through a breakdown.

D is initially distant towards her, but after they create a track together, Radha is shocked to find him willing to record a mixtape with her. D also invites Radha to perform at a showcase for up-and-coming rappers. Before the showcase Radha gets high and forgets her lyrics, leading her to humiliate herself in front of a crowd of her students.

Archie uses the recent death of Radha’s mother to smooth things over with Whitman, who agrees to produce Harlem Ave. However, he tells her to add a white character to her play. As the play progresses to the workshop stage, Radha increasingly feels uncomfortable with the compromises she is making to appeal to white audiences.

Despite witnessing her bombing on stage, D encourages Radha to continue rapping. After taking her to an all-woman rap battle in the Bronx, the two spend the night together and open up about their lives as struggling artists and the way they are coping with the recent loss of their mothers. However, Radha brushes him off the next morning, telling him she needs to work on her play.

Radha continues to struggle with the compromises she makes to have the play produced. Cleaning out her mother’s apartment with her brother, she reflects on her mother’s career as a struggling artist. She is surprised and encouraged to see that her brother views their mother as a talented Renaissance woman rather than as a failure.

On her play’s opening night, Radha appears during the curtain call and denounces her work, rapping about the need for an artist to stay true to their artistic vision. She fires Archie at the same time he quits and then heads to D’s apartment to reunite with him. The film ends with the two walking together, him beatboxing and her rapping, as the shot slowly changes from black and white to color.


Radha Blank as Radha
Peter Kim as Archie
Oswin Benjamin as D
Imani Lewis as Elaine
Haskiri Velazquez as Rosa
Antonio Ortiz as Waldo
TJ Atoms as Kamal
Jacob Ming-Trent as Lamont
Stacey Sargeant as Stacey
William Oliver Watkins as Marcus
Meghan O’Neill as Jaime
André Ward as Forrest
Welker White as Julie
Reed Birney as J. Whitman


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