Movie Review: If Beale Street Could Talk

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CAST: KIKI LAYNE, STEPHAN JAMES, REGINA KING, COLMAN DOMINGO, TEYONAH PARRIS, AND MICHAEL BEACH

DIRECTED BY: BARRY JENKINS

RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 25, 2018

 

If Beale Street Could Talk is an adaptation of the novel written from esteemed author James Baldwin. The film is directed by Barry Jenkins who won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film Moonlight in 2016. With the success of Moonlight, Hollywood realized that it had a monetary draw on its hands so Jenkins was given the reigns to direct his fourth film with a $12 million budget. Thus far, the film has been critically acclaimed but only racked in $9.3 million at the box office. Will Tinseltown give Jenkins another opportunity at the helm or will it put a screeching halt to his surging directorial career? Only time will tell.

The film, which takes place in Harlem in the 1970s, is narrated by Tish Rivers (Kiki Layne) through occasional flashbacks, who tells a story that has been told one too many times in the African American community. She and her boyfriend Fonny (Stephan James) are two madly in love individuals who want to spend their lives together and willing to deal with the different pitfalls that life has to offer. Fonny, a 22-year-old budding artist and 19-year-old Tish, who’s trying to find her purpose in life, soon realize that they’re going to need more than love to get them through life.

After finding out she’s pregnant, Tish and Fonny begin preparing for their upcoming child. With little money and little education between the two of them they take whatever menial jobs that they can get to make ends meet. Just when you begin to think, “Here we go. Another one of those kind of movies,” the viewer is hit with yet another dilemma for the young couple. From out of nowhere Fonny is falsely accused of rape and sent to prison. Ughhhhh! Really? The young couple just can’t catch a break in this film. The remainder of the film is spent with Tish narrating about how the young couple attempts to resolve their precarious predicament.

If Beale Street Could Talk is a love story about commitment and going that extra mile for someone who you love. At times the film dragged on and was predictable with some of the scenes being unrealistic. The soundtrack was unbelievable as it complimented certain scenes and added a hint of nostalgia to it. In my opinion, Jenkins reached a lot with this movie by turning a classic novel into a predictable run-of-the-mill Hollywood scoff flick with its repeated messages that kept beating you in the face.

I give If Beale Street Could Talk 5 stars out of 10 stars.

 

Jazmin Green is a Junior Broadcast/Mass Communications major from Vicksburg, Mississippi. She will be a contributor for The Campus Chronicle for the Spring 2019 school semester.