Mary J. Blige’s Real Love (2023 Lifetime)


Mary J. Blige’s Real Love (2023 Lifetime)

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Cast: Da’Vinchi, Ajiona Alexus,

Director: Camrus Johnson

Writer: Rachel Ingram, Sonja Warfield

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Synopsis (via Lifetime)

Mary J. Blige’s Real Love follows 18-year-old Kendra (Ajiona Alexus) as she sets off on her own for the first time at an HBCU in North Carolina. Attending on a scholarship, Kendra is determined to focus on school while balancing work study and keeping things professional with Ben (Da’Vinchi), her photo class partner. Despite disapproving parents, financial hardship, and even an unexpected pregnancy, Kendra and Ben find themselves falling hard for each other and ultimately learning the meaning of “Real Love.” Even when Kendra realizes that in order to pursue her dreams, she must leave Ben behind, it’s certain that their story isn’t over…

Recap/Wine Thoughts. 

Mary J Blige is an executive producer of TWO Lifetime movies based on her music. She gives an intro for the “Voices of a Lifetime” series.

The movie starts with Real Love, playing over shots of a 1996 Hammon College campus. Kendra moves into her dorm with her father, and he tells her that her mother will be proud of her. (She passed away.) Kendra worked hard to get a scholarship and make things happen for herself. She is focused on majoring in photography. 

A shirtless hunk invites Kendra to a party; he is “all that and a bag of chips.” according to Kendra’s sister. The boys continue to try and woo Kendra, especially a sweet guy named Ben. 

Ben runs into Kendra in the registrar’s office, and her drive impresses him. He signs up for Intro to Photography to spend more time with Kendra and flirt. She isn’t impressed and thinks Ben is a distraction. (I mean, he is, but he also shows Kendra how to let loose.)  

Kendra goes to a party with Ben and takes pictures of people dancing. Ben gets her a drink, and Kedra starts dancing with Ben, even though she is still on the fence about him. The cops bust the party, and the two make out while hiding behind some bushes. (Romantic?)

Ben learns that Kendra can’t drive and gives her a lesson. Then he invites her to a Gala. Ben’s mother is NOT impressed with Kendra. 

They go to a step competition, and Kendra takes some impressive photos. They dance while “Real Love” plays and then have sexy time in Ben’s dorm. It is Kendra’s first time. Then she oversleeps and misses a midterm. Kendra is PISSED at Ben and his lack of ambition. She breaks up with him because they are too different. 

Kendra’s dad is hospitalized due to a heart attack over Thanksgiving. Ben gives Kendra a ride to the hospital and stays with her until her father is in the clear. Kendra’s dad is impressed with Ben.

The shirtless hunk, whose name is Reggie, is partnered with Kendra for a class project. During a study session in his room, Reg makes a pass at Kendra, and she shuts him down. Upset at the rejection, Reg turns up the stereo, forces himself on her, and rapes her. Kendra tries to fight him off but can’t. 

Kendra becomes withdrawn, and Ben becomes concerned, even though they aren’t together. The “Pump it up” song causes Kendra to have PTSD, and she takes some of her dad’s pain pills to numb her feelings. Things get even worse when she sees Reg on campus, and she starts having panic attacks. The pills are not enough, and Kendra almost kills herself by overdosing.  

Kendra’s friend takes her to a Take Back the Night candlelight vigil. With the support of her friends, Kendra is inspired to take photos of the event. She also reconnects with Ben and tells him what happened, and apologizes for shutting him out. She tells him that he is worth the risk. 

Ben and Reg get into a physical altercation at a party, and the police arrest Ben for assault. His parents bail him out and disapprove of him hanging out with Kendra. Reg’s parents are pressing charges against Ben. Kendra confronts Reg in the hospital and demands that he drop the charges, or she will go public because he raped her. Reg agrees to tell his mom to drop the charges. 

Connie, a girl that Ben saw to make Kendra jealous, ends up pregnant, and Ben is the father. 

Kendra has a showing of her work and gets accepted into a prestigious art school. Ben shows up and tells Kendra that his parents want her to marry Connie. He loves Kendra, and she says that she is not responsible for his actions. 

Ben decides not to marry Connie just because his parents want him to. He wants to go with Kendra to Chicago, but taking care of the baby will keep him from doing that. Ben thanks Kendra for making him into a better man and says that he loves her. 

Kendra takes a picture of them together and invents the selfie. Then they make out for one last time. They want the best for one another, even if it isn’t together as a couple. 

Before she leaves for Chicago, Kenda gives Ben a framed picture of them together. He gives her a new camera?!!?

As Kendra drives away, “real love” plays on the radio. Ben stands in the review mirror. 

Side Note/Stray Thoughts

Minority Report: The cast and crew is predominantly Black artists. 

I like that Mary J went for a fictionalized story rather than a Biopic. 

There is a scene in a photo-developing room that looks WILD! I’m not sure if they added the red filter in the post, but it is hyper-pixilated. 

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Overall rating 

Number of Kills: 

N/A not that kind of Lifetime Movie

Enjoyment Level (1-5 scale) 

🍷🍷🍷🍷 (4 Glasses of Wine)

Should you watch it?

Pour it up! (Give it a shot)

Put a Cork in It (Skip It)

What did you think of the movie? Let me know in the comments or on social media @LifetimeUncorked & @patrickmiguel

*Photo Credit: © 2023 Lifetime® | A+E Networks®

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