‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ 2018
Dir. Barry Jenkins
Starring: KiKi Layne, Stephen James, Regina King and Colman Domingo.
Genre: Social, Drama, Romance.
‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ is at its core about the racial injustices faced by the African-American community in a 1970s America. The movie is an adaptation by the famed writer James Baldwin’s book of the same name, and titled so to pay homage to the rich cultural background of the place (Beale Street), how it carries the histories and voices of all of the African-Americans. Barry Jenkin’s shot to fame was his Oscar winning 2016 film, ‘Moonlight’. He has explored topics less dealt with- human sexual identity, minority oppression and feminism, in his pictures. Jenkins also pioneers the importance of using symbolic elements such as, visuals and sound, to highlight human emotions and characters.
‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ revolves around a young couple Tish and Fonny, childhood friends who are now madly in love and engaged to be married. Fonny is wrongfully imprisoned for the rape of a woman, who incorrectly identifies him as her rapist even though he was at his home at that time. The policemen are biased towards Fonny as they had had run ins with him in the past but couldn’t hold him on any relevant charges. The story goes about how Tish is fighting to free Fonny, with her family standing strong behind her during this along with her pregnancy. We see the struggles of being colored in their country, emphasis laid on how there is a large gap that a failing criminal justice system leaves by being inadequate.
The scenes are very brightly laid out, raw for the audience to ingest and very sublime in its themes. Yes, the racial discrimination is evident, but it is so much more than just that singular perspective. The director shows us the extent of hard love, loneliness, the effect of separation, support from the family and above all bonding at its finest. Acting from Layne and James are very good and the supporting cast of King and Domingo is heavenly to watch.
Nicholas Britell was in action and delivers a flawless rollercoaster of a background score, getting nominated for an Oscar for his music. It is very evident what mood the director wants to put you in just by the music that is in the background, and this is a very hard feat to pull off so do pay attention to this.
Why should you watch this movie?
There are different versions of love, different situations you fall in love and different time periods. This is one such love story, a love story rich not only in its romance but in the evident scenes of social awareness and injustice. It is not a light movie, but a thought-provoking one as it has relevance in any scenario. Do check it out if you are up for some hard truths about teen love and reality. If you are not into it, you can also find out about the light-hearted comedy, Free Guy (2021) or a daring biographical drama Shershaah (2021)