If Beale Street Could Talk is a romantic drama film directed and written by Barry Jenkins, and based on James Baldwin's novel of the same name. It stars KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Colman Domingo, Teyonah Parris, Michael Beach, Dave Franco, Diego Luna, Pedro Pascal, Ed Skrein, Brian Tyree Henry and Regina King.
The Story/The Direction:
The film is about a young African-American woman, Tish (Layne) who, along with her family, are trying to clear her lover, Fonny (James), from a crime he did not commit. Their fight is against the clock because they have to free him before the birth of his and Tish's child.
Jenkins's direction on this film follows suit after his film, Moonlight. He is able to tell this story of love, justice, and tragedy with expertise shown only in aged directors. He focuses on the environment that these people are living in and makes every scene important to the overall story and message. The cinematography places the audience right in the middle of 1970's Harlem but also places them in the present day. There are a lot of themes that correspond with today's issues with racism towards African Americans. The writing by Jenkins is absolutely amazing which is probably due to the source material by James Baldwin. The music, composed by Nicholas Britell, takes every moment and makes it significant. Each scene with the characters develops the overall plot and themselves.
The love story between Tish and Fonny is the center of the film and this picture takes its time to develop their relationship. The film opens with Tish stating, "I hope that nobody has ever had to look at anybody they love through glass." This sets the stage of these two people who love each other and even being inches from each other, they cannot touch one another. As the film builds their relationship, one always has to keep in the back of their mind that Fonny is in prison the entire film. This was a great choice by Jenkins/Baldwin because it allows Fonny to become a human character, not just a lover in prison. His life is analyzed by them and shown to the audience on screen. Tish struggles to deal with this because their family has issues being able to fight for Fonny's freedom because lawyers and investigators cost a lot of money. She has to fight for money herself while also fighting for his freedom.
Their love may be the center of the film but the best actor is Regina King playing Tish's mother. This film allows her to be a strong mother figure that does everything for her daughter and her partner even traveling to Puerto Rico when they do not have the money. Her two significant scenes are worth the price of admission alone.
While there may be people who complain about how the slow the film is but this pacing issue not really a problem as each scene builds upon the last to develop the overall story. The story builds the love between the two main characters and how hard it can be for African Americans in 1970s society as well as todays.
From the direction to the writing to the acting, this film is good across the board. It's worth the price of admission over and over again and then worth buying on Blu-ray.
Rating: 5.0/5.0 bowties
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