IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK – A Review by Gadi Elkon

A woman in Harlem desperately scrambles to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime while carrying their first child.

Here is my full review of If Beale Street Could Talk.

Barry Jenkins take on James Baldwin’s eye-opening story is a real masterwork on pacing and subtly.  The film takes each step with a real need to be understood and acknowledged.  Overall the Barry Jenkins pace is becoming most apparent from Moonlight to this film.  He takes his time in showing you something beautiful and heartbreaking at the same instance.  It’s as if you were actually reading Baldwin’s work and imaging the reality before your eyes.  Most filmmakers wouldn’t have the guts to make a film this way.  Jenkins is that bold and thus that profound.

Just like in Moonlight we are introduced to a talented group of actors and actresses.  Some are new finds like Kiki Layne as our lead character Tish Rivers.  Some are established juggernauts like Regina King as Sharon Rivers and some are veteran actors giving juicy roles like Colman Domingo as Joseph Rivers.  Stephan James is our falsely convicted Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt who battles Kiki Layne for every moment on-screen and makes their scenes electric.  He also has a tremendously moving sequence with his old friend, Daniel Carty.  Carty is played by Brian Tyree Henry who has had a tremendous year with this and Widows coming out.  Henry’s honest take on incarceration is one of the really important moments in film this year.

James Laxton’s cinematography is so intriguing with his ability to show so many different shades and colors to an urban landscape.  Just as he coated Moonlight in purple, blue and turquoise hues of Miami that fully amplified Jenkins film,he coats Harlem in browns, grays and the occasional red.  Laxton really gives a new eye to filmmaking choices as his palate seems so fresh and new to the screen.  Mix in the great editing minds of Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders and once again you have a real masterwork.  Granted the story doesn’t have as hard or unseen punch as Moonlight but the way the material is handled allows for it to still shine strongly.

“TRUST LOVE ALL THE WAY”… and trust Jenkins and his team all the way as they will treat you to what true love looks and feels like.

For more info: IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

Directed by Barry Jenkins
Written by Barry Jenkins (written for the screen by), James Baldwin (based on the book by)
Rated R
Selig Rating B+
Running Time 1hr 59min
Crime, Drama, Romance
Release – Out Now Nationally
Starring: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Colman Domingo, Brian Tyree Henry
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.