We’re big fans of Barry Jenkins’ hotly-anticipated third feature, based on James Baldwin’s 1974 book of the same name. Arriving two years after the American director scooped his first Oscar for the heartrending coming-of-ager Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk follows a black couple living in Harlem, New York, in the early ’70s.
At first glance, the story of Tish (Kiki Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James) is an intimate portrait of a burgeoning romance – but this being a faithful Baldwin adaptation, Jenkins’ film is so much more than that. It’s about parental responsibility and devotion, hope, faith and community, and love persisting in the face of entrenched racial oppression.
The two central characters, brilliantly brought to life by Layne and James, symbolise the struggle of African-American people then and now, with Jenkins emphasising the systematic injustice which Baldwin so astutely critiqued throughout his career.
As such, Beale Street is another timely and urgent new work from one of the most powerful emerging voices in contemporary American cinema. Expect to hear a lot more from us on Beale Street in the not too distant future. Before then, check out the brand new trailer below ahead of the film’s theatrical release on 19 January 2019.
Published 20 Sep 2018
The director’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning Moonlight is based on James Baldwin’s classic novel.
The Moonlight director discusses the value of film school and finding a personal voice.
Raoul Peck’s use of ‘The Blacker the Berry’ in his civil rights documentary I Am Not Your Negro is truly inspired.