Movie Review: If Beale Street Could Talk

By Ceara Kelly, Staff Writer
[Annapurna Pictures; 2018]
Rating: 8/10

So often when movies attempt to be bittersweet they forget the “sweet” part. If Beale Street Could Talk did not. It manages to take a heartbreaking reality and make it something warm. It is a love story at its core, and for once a movie didn’t feel the need to add unnecessary drama and dilute the story.

Read more: Movie Review: Moonlight

If Beale Street Could Talk is director Barry Jenkins’s second full-length film, and like Moonlight, it was spectacular. The film follows the story of a young couple, Tish Rivers and Fonny Hunt, as they struggle with Fonny’s arrest over a fraudulent rape charge and the approaching birth of their first child. The agony of their situation makes each kind moment all the more endearing, which contributes to the aforementioned “sweet” factor. Furthermore, the majority of the movie is told in flashbacks, revealing how the couple fell in love and the future they planned. The scenes in the present rarely focus on Tish and Fonny’s pain. Instead, it’s about their family.

In today’s political climate, it is important to understand what minorities are going through, but it is even more important to know that these issues have been ignored for centuries. The cruelty and racial profiling carried out by law enforcement have left lasting effects on many families. In Beale Street, the woman accusing Fonny of rape was never villainized because of these issues.

Though this sounds bleak, the film’s welcoming and pleasant visuals create a contrast. Beautiful yellow tones are seen throughout If Beale Street Could Talk, and Tish and Fonny, with the exception of the prison scenes, are usually connected by similar color schemes. If Beale Street Could Talk truly achieves both a beautiful scheme and a visually astonishing experience without relying on painfully obvious aesthetic and shot choices. With both of Jenkin’s films accomplishing this, the wait for his next film is all the more exciting.

Both visually and conceptually, If Beale Street Could Talk is a stunning movie. Every character in this film stands on their own, and everyone copes in their own way. Despite being dreary at times, it is ultimately an uplifting film. It sticks with you. It makes the viewer’s soul feel, and that is why it’s special.

Watch the trailer below:

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