A review of the new film “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Writer and director Barry Jenkins won the Academy Award for Best Picture with “Moonlight” and, two years later, he has another artistic success to his credit. Again he both writes and directs; again he uses James Laxton as cinematographer; again he adapts an existing work (this time a James Baldwin novel); again we have a starring vehicle for a roster of little-known black actors (only two small roles go to whites); and again the pace is slow and very measured.

This time the story is set in 1970s Harlem with the Beale Street of the title simply being a metaphor for anywhere that African-Americans struggle to live in an essentially white society where the odds are stacked against them. The style is plainer than in “Moonlight” and the narrative is quite slight for this achingly moving story of love between Trish (KiKi Layne), the teenage narrator who is pregnant, and Fonny (Stephan James), her older boyfriend who is in jail charged with a rape which he did not commit.

This is not a movie that will achieve great commercial success, but the art house crowd – which includes me – will love it as much as Trish and Fonny care for each other.


XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>