In his follow-up film to his Oscar-winning Moonlight, director Barry Jenkins brings us If Beale Street Could Talk—a dreamy, romantic drama that will immediately draw you in and capture your heart.
This adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel of the same name tells the story of Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Scarborough’s own Stephan James); two lovestruck young adults living in 1970s Harlem and confronting a racially-charged environment along the way. Just as the two are beginning to plan the rest of their lives together, Fonny is accused of a crime he did not commit and is sent behind bars.
At the same time, Tish discovers she is pregnant and is now even more motivated than ever to free the love of her life. With the support of her family and Fonny’s father, Tish attempts to clear Fonny’s name and bring him home. The audience is taken along on this uphill battle with Tish as she takes on the challenges of the present while reminiscing on the most special moments of this couple’s past.
Barry Jenkins does an amazing job of bringing this story to life. He captures the humour, the pain, and the love that are felt by all these characters. A staple in this movie is the slow-motion camera shots that occur when Tish and Fonny look into each other’s eyes. They are so in love with one another, the world just stops for them and lets them have a moment of peace every time they look at each other. It is just one of the many things that makes this movie so beautiful. The soundtrack is also a work of art, as it captures the spirit of 1970s Harlem, while also reflecting what is happening in the story perfectly. Scored by Nicholas Britell, who worked with Jenkins previously on Moonlight, he brings us a soundtrack filled with classical and blues tunes.
The story not only gives audiences a pure and beautiful love story, but it reminds them of the importance to fight for what you love with everything you have and to remain hopeful for the sun to rise again. As I was watching the film, I was drawn in by the simplistic beauty of the first scene where we see the two lovers walking hand-in-hand along the bank of the Hudson River. They turn and look deeply into each others eyes and Tish asks “You ready for this?”, and Fonny responds with, “I’ve never been more ready for anything my whole life”. It was in that moment I was utterly captivated by Tish and Fonny’s love story. After that, I was on the emotional roller coaster with Tish as I watched her and Fonny’s love grow deeper and felt her pain with each curve ball thrown her way, desperately hoping for the two to be together again.
Overall, the movie was so beautiful I wanted to wrap myself up in it and never leave behind the characters on Beale Street. If you missed the film’s premiere at TIFF in September, where it was runner-up for the Grolsch People’s Choice Award, then be sure to check it out when it hits theatres this Friday, November 30.
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