Barry Jenkins follows up Moonlight with another incredible tale. This time it’s the power of love which drives this emotional journey which sees a wrongfully convicted man struggle with missing the birth of his son.
“A woman in Harlem embraces her pregnancy while she and her family struggle to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime.”
Barry Jenkins took the world by storm in 2016 with his ground-breaking hit Moonlight. Winner of Best Picture, after the whole wrong, envelop fiasco. Now I don’t want to know the amount of pressure that must come with trying to follow-up the Best Picture winner, but Barry Jenkins got back in the saddle quickly and now just two years later here we are with If Beale Street Could Talk. When you have climbed the highest mountain, how can you possibly repeat that feat? I think it’s remarkable that some individuals have won multiple Best Pictures, and I believe that someday Barry Jenkins will join those ranks. Beale Street was an enjoyable experience, it’s full of hope and a ton of despair. When something unexpected comes between two people in love, how far are they willing to bend before they break? When the law is out of their control and the justice system is so corrupt, how do you cope with losing the person you love most? All of these themes are explored, and it felt so real, it hit hard, and it hits hard often. In a world where this goes on daily, you seem to forget just how good you have it sometimes.
Beale Street thrives on the chemistry between its two stars. Tish (Kiki Layne) and Fonny (Stephen James). Their performances are so authentic, you can feel the passion between these two, even in the subtle glances they give one another. They both carry the film so well, and with that perfect on-screen chemistry, it makes you more invested in their love story. When characters on screen don’t have fantastic chemistry, it can take you out of the picture, but when two people who are pretending to be in love, actually feel in love, the possibilities are endless. So kudos to Barry Jenkins on handpicking these two cast members, because without them, without their journey together, this whole thing simply does not work. When their world gets turned upside down, you want them to figure this thing out, you know just as much as they do, that they belong together. The aesthetics are wonderful, the costume design, the set pieces, it transports you to a place, that might not seem beautiful but the characters and the colors around them make it so. Every outfit that Tish wore was so bright and full of life and it suits her character, who never gives up and is such a strong young independent woman. Gorgeous cinematography that will look even better on the biggest screen in your city. Some of the close up shots are truly breathtaking.
Mix in one of, if not the best supporting cast in a 2018 movie. From the lovely Regina King, who will most likely be nominated for best-supporting actress come Oscar season. Brian Tyree Henry, who shows up for 15 minutes but fills the box-score to the max. He is without a doubt one of the best-underrated actors working today and had himself one hell of a year. Rounding out the perfect assemble, Colman Domingo, Pedro Pascal, Deigo Luna, and Teyonah Parris. Sometimes getting a large actor or actress to just be in a very small scene, can do wonders for your film, and that is the case here. So much talent and when they are shown in such a small sample size, that role feels so much bigger than it should.
In my opening remarks, I mentioned how hard it must be to try and follow-up something so incredible as Moonlight. It can cause you to look at the next thing differently, hold it to the highest standards which isn’t always fair. I found myself doing this through Beale Street, and I kind of hated myself for it. I wanted to like Beale Street more than I did, simply because I kept thinking of Moonlight. The score is beautiful, the most emotionally charged pieces of music in film this year. I think I just wanted to like Beale Street more than I did. It falls under the best 20 films of the year, but when the trailers dropped I imagined it could fall into my top 5. Barry Jenkins is still a force to be reckoned with, and I can’t wait to see his next project.
Check ya later
Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – If Beale Street Could Talk = 77/100