If Beale Street Could Talk
February 11, 2019
Showings 4:30, 7:00 and 9:10pm
USA | Rated: N/A | Drama | 117 minutes
Director Barry Jenkins’ ambitious follow-up to his Oscar-winning Film Circuit favourite Moonlight adapts James Baldwin’s poignant novel about a woman fighting to free her falsely accused husband from prison before the birth of their child.
In his third feature, Jenkins draws deeply and faithfully from Baldwin, whose profound insight into African Americans’ unique place in society serves as inspiration for this gorgeous tone poem on love and justice. Tish (newcomer KiKi Layne) is only 19 but she’s been forced to grow up fast. She’s pregnant by Fonny (Stephan James, Race, Selma), the man she loves. But Fonny is going to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. As the film begins, Tish must break the news to her family, and his. Tish’s mother, played with heartbreaking depth by Regina King (television’s American Crime, Ray), soon must decide how far she will go to secure her daughter’s future. As Fonny, James gives a career-best performance of both grit and grace as a young man deeply in love but furious at what has befallen him. Jenkins reveals the layers of conflicting motivations in a filmmaking style that approaches music — dipping into Baldwin’s elevated language and following his characters with unabashed devotion, fully capturing the texture of ’70s New York.
If Beale Street Could Talk is without doubt a romance, but it’s stronger than that because it refuses to indulge fantasy. Infused with Moonlight’s deep lyricism and Medicine for Melancholy’s flirtatious spark, Jenkins’ latest shows him to be our most clear-eyed chronicler of love.
“You’ve never seen romantic love depicted on screen with such lyrical and gorgeous intensity, or systemic injustice brought to such vivid and enraging life. Film classes will be taught about Jenkins’ use of color.” —Glen Weldon, NPR