If Beale Street Could Talk
Directed by Barry Jenkins. US. 2018. R. 1 hour 57 minutes. Annapurna Pictures. Digital.
Set in early-1970s Harlem, If Beale Street Could Talk is a timeless and moving love story of both a couple’s unbreakable bond and the African-American family’s empowering embrace, as told through the eyes of 19-year old Tish Rivers (KiKi Layne). A daughter and wife-to-be, Tish vividly recalls the passion, respect and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny (Stephan James). Friends since childhood, the devoted couple dream of a future together but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit.
Tish knows that Fonny is innocent, and is mindful that his good friend Daniel Carty (Brian Tyree Henry) has only recently been freed after an unjust incarceration. While Fonny’s mother (Aunjanue Ellis) clings to piety and his father (Michael Beach) grapples with feelings of powerlessness, Tish’s earthy father Joseph (Colman Domingo) and fierce older sister Ernestine (Teyonah Parris) are unwavering in their support. Even more anxious to clear Fonny’s name is Tish’s deeply compassionate mother Sharon (Regina King), readying to put herself on the line for her daughter and future son-in-law’s happiness…and for the couple’s unborn child, whose arrival will herald new joys and challenges.
Facing the unexpected prospect of parenthood and holding down a job without her partner at her side, Tish must adjust her perspective on the realities of her existence. She visits Fonny regularly, trying to shore up his spirit even as prison takes its toll. As the weeks turn to months, Tish reaffirms their hopes and resilience, relying on familial and inner strength.
“Weaving together the past and the present, masterful interpretations of Baldwin’s incredible prose, gorgeous visuals, and a sweeping score, If Beale Street Could Talk draws audiences into its overwhelming mix of emotions all at once.” – Sarah Kurchak, Consequence of Sound
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