Review: Hip-hop musical ‘My Name Is Myeisha’ remains stagebound

 Rhaechyl Walker in the movie "My Name is Myeisha." In the foreground, hands can be seen pointing a gun.
Rhaechyl Walker in the movie “My Name is Myeisha.”
(Shout! Studios)

Most of “My Name Is Myeisha” takes place over a few seconds in the life of Myeisha (Rhaechyl Walker). In the hip-hop musical, the young black woman is headed out with her friends (Dominique Toney and Dee Dee Stephens) when she falls asleep in a locked car.

When they’re unable to wake her, her friends call the police, and the unexpected — and sadly, seemingly inevitable — happens. With rap, spoken word and beat boxing, Walker and costar John Merchant expand the last minute of her life into fantasy, as Myeisha remembers who she was and what she loved.

Director and cowriter Gus Krieger swings big; this isn’t a film that anyone could criticize for being bland or lacking in style, but it can feel like its reach exceeds the filmmakers’ grasp. Based on cowriter Rickerby Hinds’ play “Dreamscape” and inspired by the real-life death of Tyisha Miller, “My Name Is Myeisha” sadly feels stuck on the stage. What might have worked in theater doesn’t translate here, particularly the repetition of words and phrases that feel true to the original medium but grate here on screen.

“My Name Is Myeisha” is at its best — and its most effective — in its final moments, which mirror Myeisha’s own. It ends powerfully, underscoring the film’s important themes about police brutality and the tragedy of black lives cut short. The preceding 70 minutes just don’t do it justice.

‘My Name Is Myeisha’

Rated: R, for language, some sexual references and brief drug use.

Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Glendale; also on VOD