Angel Films | Release Date: December 14, 2018
7.1
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Generally favorable reviews based on 151 Ratings
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6
richardradJan 6, 2019
"If Beale Street Could Talk” grabs you by the throat and never lets go. And that's a problem. The film is about 30 minutes too long. The music, which could have been terrific, was surprisingly pedestrian. That said, the acting is first-rate"If Beale Street Could Talk” grabs you by the throat and never lets go. And that's a problem. The film is about 30 minutes too long. The music, which could have been terrific, was surprisingly pedestrian. That said, the acting is first-rate and story is deeply compelling. A young African-American man is convicted of a crime he didn't commit in Harlem, New York during the 70s, while his pregnant fiancee and her mother fight fiercely to prove that he didn't do it. Sadly, there is no nuance here. We are commanded by the director to be outraged, and we are. But where is the dance of life and the mystery of what brings two souls together in such a passionate embrace. I want to read James Baldwin's novel. I'll bet it's a lot better than the movie. Expand
2 of 2 users found this helpful20
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5
TheWayfarer73Mar 11, 2019
This movie started so powerfully and I couldn't help myself from wanting more of it, but by the 2nd act I didn't care about the characters anymore. Visually looked great but the 2nd and 3rd acts left much to be desired.
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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8
Brent_MarchantDec 29, 2018
Director Barry Jenkins's followup to his Oscar-winning masterpiece "Moonlight" comes close to matching its predecessor in many respects, though it doesn't quite equal its forerunner. With fine performances, beautiful cinematography, genuinelyDirector Barry Jenkins's followup to his Oscar-winning masterpiece "Moonlight" comes close to matching its predecessor in many respects, though it doesn't quite equal its forerunner. With fine performances, beautiful cinematography, genuinely evocative emotion and a skillfully crafted ambiance, "If Beale Street Could Talk" effectively draws viewers into a world characterized by heartfelt love and ugly injustice. However, despite these many attributes, the film is somewhat bogged down by excessively lingering imagery and protracted dialogue that both go on a little too long, needlessly slowing the narrative's pace. What's more, in an attempt to avoid being too heavy-handed, the director at times uses a little too much restraint in his storytelling, keeping the picture from having an impact as strong as it might have been. In all, a fine effort in many regards, though one that I wish could have been a little better. But, considering what it had to live up to, that would have been a tall order for any filmmaker. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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10
alejandro970Jan 31, 2019
A compelling love letter from the homeland of Jazz. A love story above justice, walls and bars. Remarkable performances and endearing OST. The unanswered finale is a good detail in some way. A must to see.
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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9
MarkHReviewsJan 6, 2019
From the first scene, “If Beale Street Could Talk” grabs you by the throat and never lets go. Writer/Director Barry Jenkins (writer/director of “Moonlight” which won Best Picture Oscar in 2016) has again written a script with universalFrom the first scene, “If Beale Street Could Talk” grabs you by the throat and never lets go. Writer/Director Barry Jenkins (writer/director of “Moonlight” which won Best Picture Oscar in 2016) has again written a script with universal appeal. Composer Nicholas Britell’s powerful underscoring strengthens and heightens the viewer’s sense of anxiety and impending cataclysm. James Laxton’s cinematography, particularly with its use of extreme close-ups, serves up a series of visual images that dare the viewer to flinch and look away, creating a film that is literally “in your face.” Voiceovers that quote directly from James Baldwin’s 1974 book by the same name serve the dual purposes of accelerating the arc of the story while also demonstrating Baldwin’s near-poetic eloquence. This is a film as mesmerizing as it is upsetting.

“Beale Street” is filled with heart, courage, remorse and simmering indignation. James Baldwin once said, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” The story of Fonny and Tish is, or should be, a source of genuine rage for anyone with a conscience, regardless of race. Childhood friends and eventual sweethearts, Fonny and Tish grow up together, fall in love and eventually begin to build a life together. Just as Tish discovers she is pregnant, Fonny is falsely accused of rape and jailed. The balance of the film chronicles the efforts of Tish, her family and others to secure his release. The film’s final scene, in its ambiguity, is more powerful and more devastating than the artificially crafted “drama” we see so often before the closing credits roll. The messages in this film are consistently hard-earned.

There are a few minor false notes. Fonny’s intensely religious, “holy roller” mother is condescending, overly dramatic and entirely unappealing. In fairness, though, this portrayal may simply be furthering Baldwin’s critique that Christianity is often used to discourage blacks from rising up against injustice by encouraging a focus on the rewards of the afterlife.

The cast here is simply spectacular. As Tish, KiKi Layne delivers a breakout performance. Tish is vulnerable, strong, resilient, totally authentic. Stephan James (nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor for Amazon Prime’s “Homecoming” this year) is equally compelling as Fonny, conveying with conviction his courage, strength, sensitivity, doubt and dignity in the face of inhumanity. Regina King (with roles ranging from1991’s “Boyz in the Hood” to this year’s “Seven Seconds”) is an archetype of the wise, powerful, strong woman.

At no point does Jenkins’ screenplay vilify whites indiscriminately. In fact, most of the white characters in the film are portrayed as earnestly sympathetic. Jenkins, through Baldwin’s source material, has a much bigger point to make: that American society, despite the good intentions of many, has utterly failed to offer liberty or justice for all. It’s an accusation that is jarring and painful, but ultimately impossible to refute. This bleak outlook is softened, however, by the suggestion that even if love doesn’t conquer all, it can allow life’s unfairness to become a shared burden.
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2 of 3 users found this helpful21
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3
clifbarJan 11, 2019
At the end of the movie, I realized why there were only 12 of us in the movie theatre on a Friday evening in a largely Afro-American neighborhood. Apparently word got out about this depressing movie with two dimensional characters and aAt the end of the movie, I realized why there were only 12 of us in the movie theatre on a Friday evening in a largely Afro-American neighborhood. Apparently word got out about this depressing movie with two dimensional characters and a shallow plot. I was relieved when the movie was finally over. Expand
3 of 5 users found this helpful32
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7
TVJerryJan 8, 2019
This story is taken from the James Baldwin novel, which revolves around the dedicated, intense love between a young woman (Kiki Layne) and her fiancé (Stephan James). Their idyllic time is challenged when he's unjustly imprisoned and she mustThis story is taken from the James Baldwin novel, which revolves around the dedicated, intense love between a young woman (Kiki Layne) and her fiancé (Stephan James). Their idyllic time is challenged when he's unjustly imprisoned and she must maintain their relationship, while preparing to have their baby. Director Barry Jenkins has infused the film with moments of poetic beauty and touching affection (between the couple and with her family). As lovely as this is, almost every scene revels in its lyric artistry too long, which makes the drama harder to endure. Still, with affecting performances and creative direction, this is a challenging art film with a strong social message. Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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9
GreatMartinJan 11, 2019
Start off a movie with a strong love story with two new young stars, KiKi Layne as 19-year-old Tish and Stephan James as 22-year-old Alonzo 'Fonny' Hunt who share strong on-screen chemistry, and you have got me! Add an interesting, oft-toldStart off a movie with a strong love story with two new young stars, KiKi Layne as 19-year-old Tish and Stephan James as 22-year-old Alonzo 'Fonny' Hunt who share strong on-screen chemistry, and you have got me! Add an interesting, oft-told but never a boring story that is as true today as when it was written about in 1974 by the brilliant writer James Baldwin. Top it off with Nina Simone on the soundtrack there is no turning back.

After winning an Oscar for writing, and directing, the award-winning "Moonlight" Barry Jenkins returns with "If Beale Street Could Talk", a story of a Black boy wrongfully accused of rape who, after being jailed, finds out the girl he loves is pregnant. From that point on we are steered into different angles but the love between Tish and Fonny is always strong even, when not thinking, he says something to her that is cruel and wrong. They hadn't married yet not because he didn't want to but her parents and sister, along with his father, strongly support the couple and, without hesitation, offer their help with the new baby. Colman Domingo as her father, Teyonah Parris as her sister and Michael Beach as his father are very strong on screen, especially with the ways the older sister shows Tish her love. Domingo and Beach have a mesmerizing scene in a bar where they discuss what Black fathers have to do to help their children.

On the evening when she tells her family that she is pregnant her father calls Fonny's family to come over and that is when we meet his father, mother and 2 sisters. Aunjanue Ellis, playing the mother, is an overzealous Christian with 2 daughters, Ebony Obsidian and Dominique Thorne, who are not only taking after their mother but get their comeuppance from Tish's sister. There is also a very unexpected moment in the scene that made most of the audience gasp.

Regina King is very strong as the mother who knows the woman, Emily Rios, who pointed the finger, via the racist cop, Ed Skrein, was put up to it and faces up to her. There is a scene just before the two women face each other where King, alone, spends time looking in a mirror putting and taking off a wig that is very intense but runs just a bit too long, not that it isn't interesting just delaying the story.

There is a scene between Fonny and his old buddy Daniel, played by Brian Tyree Henry, where the latter talks about being arrested and having the 'choice' of admitting to stealing a car, though he doesn't know how to drive or carrying marijuana with the latter being a lighter sentence which is the one he chooses. Unfortunately Henry speaks too softly to be completely understood though what he has to say is very important.

Barry Jenkins does an excellent job bringing Baldwin's writing to the screen but makes a few mistakes consisting of running 3-4 scenes too long slowing the film down, not following up on 2 points made earlier in the film and jumping back and forth in time though it can be followed if one watches closely regarding the love between the leads and her figure! He, also, has added an excellent score to the movie.

I don't particularly like sex on screen but leading up to Tish losing her virginity and the actual act is one of the most lyrical love scenes ever seen on film and while the director is responsible for placing the camera it is the faces and the way they hold, use their bodies, of KiKi Layne and Stephan James that raise their love to a higher level.

"If Beale Street Could Talk" is an excellent film just short of being a classic strictly due to the director's missteps but Jenkins takes credit for all that is right about the film. It is the best genre film I have seen since "The Hate U Give" and Kiki Layne's film debut is as impressive as Amandla Stenberg was in that film.
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1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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2
Time4MoviesJan 15, 2019
save your money,drawn out and very hypocritical, Good start but 15 min in started to drag out storyline in my opinion. Double standards on language used.
3 of 9 users found this helpful36
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7
TrevorsViewJan 3, 2019
Okay, here is my first review of 2019, which I will discuss while sharing with you what 2018 meant for me. Much like Barry Jenkins’ latest work, it turned out very similar to my own year of personal issues. In fact, movies took up the yearOkay, here is my first review of 2019, which I will discuss while sharing with you what 2018 meant for me. Much like Barry Jenkins’ latest work, it turned out very similar to my own year of personal issues. In fact, movies took up the year and went on to influence other personal relationships of mine. It was an awry balance between happiness beside the mandatory events that brought my spirits down and seeing the two merge. This balance gets captured in If Beale Street Could Talk as it shows a young woman’s judgment tested.

Not that its depiction of the judgment hits all the marks though, as this still lacks the strength of the parents’ involvement in the core plot. They each develop too weak a redemptive arc while their nineteen-year-old daughter carries a new baby, and her twenty-two-year-old boyfriend goes behind bars. Mom and Dad’s impact would have turned stronger without the voiceover narration, which right now sounds straight from a novel.

The characters themselves don’t make the dialogue that much better though, as some say discomforting phrases like, “The White man has got to be the devil,” which could shut off a few viewers. It’s a consequence of Jenkins’ anti-marriage script that does not focus enough time between the main protagonist, Tish, and her relatives, something important for the story to take on its full intended purpose. Yet it ironically helps strengthen the bond between Tish and her other half, Alonzo, or as she only refers to him as, “Fonny,” a name that dates to their childhood.

The weak details, including some distractingly bad Italian accents, strangely enough help preserve the strong little details. For this movie, it is a record player Fonny turns on as relaxing sex music. These slow moments of high tension keep up thanks to the killer performances of the whole cast that help turn on painful feels that want to set off the happy thoughts. Thus, the incredibly average screenplay can be ignored.

In fact, the theme keeps up in such subtle queues from the very first frame to the last; Tish and Fonny start off wearing coordinated morning glory flower outfits, then the motif of colors keeps up until the impactful finale when those colors take on a gloomier aura. Of some bad emotions felt, Fonny projects vocally how his dark skin makes him hate living in America.

Therefore, Barry Jenkins properly decides to implement monochrome photographs of the past national pain. With the expert editing, we can forget the fun high-speed 1990s thrillers, for the somber tone conveys how these people always remain deeply hurt behind a smile; Fonny’s face, behind glass, dissolves into a building of architecture resembling prison bars. In the conversations Tish and Fonny share on either side of this glass barrier, their faces almost resemble mugshots of close friends. These are just some of the bad memories provoked that seem to lift the good memories higher. By then, a mere record player takes on greater meaning, right?

Every actor should be praised above all else for their ability to put a lump in your throat with their roller coaster emotional changes through laughing, then crying. That particularly goes to the mom, played flawlessly by Regina King (American Crime, Seven Seconds), whose transparent fear from new tasks mirrors back doubt when trying on a wig before she leaves America. It’s equally wonderful to see the bright, smiley cast work together in Tish’s perfume shop job, as troublesome as she describes it being.

2018 gave me great sources of positivity, even when my cinema watching strangely decreased by December due to other commitments. Optimism always continued during not-fun things; for me, it was putting marmalade in my post-workout drink to sustain high spirits despite other roommate problems. Yes, stuff always went on throughout the year even when it didn’t feel that way; I drove my first rental car from Phoenix to Tucson then back again, appeared on TV three different times, cooked a lot, went to my first live magic show, got two different job promotions, all evidence for myself how film shouldn’t serve a sole source of joy in life.

That’s 2018: a year that came out good mostly for me, even when the negatives were still critical to understand. With that, this magical end of the year always triumphs in bringing out our most reflective selves, much like the impact If Beale Street Could Talk will do to you.
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1 of 3 users found this helpful12
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9
LamontRaymondDec 14, 2018
There's so much to like about this film, and I must mention Colman Domingo, who is absolutely fantastic and needs to be in more feature films. The two young leads are also amazing. The only fault I must mention is that certain scenes towardThere's so much to like about this film, and I must mention Colman Domingo, who is absolutely fantastic and needs to be in more feature films. The two young leads are also amazing. The only fault I must mention is that certain scenes toward the middle of the film ran a bit long. I felt that it dragged a bit. Otherwise, a special film. All-star cast from top to bottom. Expand
0 of 2 users found this helpful02
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7
tropicAcesDec 20, 2018
Much like “Moonlight”, this features a hypnotic score and beautiful cinematography, not to mention a great supporting turn from a long-under-appreciated actor (Regina King, who is a queen). However just like “Moonlight” the plot leaves one toMuch like “Moonlight”, this features a hypnotic score and beautiful cinematography, not to mention a great supporting turn from a long-under-appreciated actor (Regina King, who is a queen). However just like “Moonlight” the plot leaves one to desire more, and there is never that “gut punch” moment to bring it all home. Expand
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10
DodoeggDec 16, 2018
Pretty much perfect everything, particularly in the writing of character relationships. Barry Jenkins does great stuff again.
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7
JLuis_001Feb 18, 2019
I liked it a lot and Barry Jenkins deserves a lot of recognition because he managed to do a very good job considering that he had to follow up what he achieved with Moonlight and that's not easy.

The only problems and reasons why I don't
I liked it a lot and Barry Jenkins deserves a lot of recognition because he managed to do a very good job considering that he had to follow up what he achieved with Moonlight and that's not easy.

The only problems and reasons why I don't give it more stars is because I didn't like the narrative rhythm and this is due to the second problem and that is that the performances feel too controlled and to some extent overreacted and that didn't really felt quite right.
But beyond that, it remains a solid option.
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3
didntloveitFeb 16, 2019
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Another horror movie from Barry Jenkins. Just like Moonlight, the world it depicts has a claustrophobic feeling. Nearly every shot is a close up and it seems Jenkins does not believe in establishing shots. I found myself angry at the film maker while watching the movie because the characters, actors, story, and costumes were wonderful. However, undercutting all of that was music that was too loud and often conveyed a sense of foreboding and the moments of brightness were overwhelmed by bleakness. The movie is fairly slow-paced and so during the scenes when time slows down even more were just excruciating for me, as they only ratcheted up my fears of something tragic happening. From the beginning I was trying to figure out what the timescale of the this movie would be and I really stopped wondering until the scene in the jail when Fonny's face has cuts all over it. But this point, I thought that the film must be ending soon and I was sure that he was going to commit suicide, or that the baby would die, or that the father's would go to jail or be killed because they were selling stolen merchandise to make money to pay for Fonny's defense efforts. I find Jenkins filmmaking style to be very alienating. Expand
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4
netflicJan 7, 2019
This movie was supposed to be about love. But it is mostly about racism.
And it is a very racist movie. I was hoping it would be an intelligent and nuanced film similar to "Moonlight". What a disappointment! It has nice cinematography, pretty
This movie was supposed to be about love. But it is mostly about racism.
And it is a very racist movie. I was hoping it would be an intelligent and nuanced film similar to "Moonlight". What a disappointment! It has nice cinematography, pretty faces, mundane script and lots of stale stereotypes.
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8
imthenoobMar 27, 2019
Jenkins continues to prove his worth as a writer/director with another gem under his belt in If Beale Street Could Talk. He picks his shots perfectly, The cast does a fantastic job and as a whole, It tells a rather satisfying story (in aJenkins continues to prove his worth as a writer/director with another gem under his belt in If Beale Street Could Talk. He picks his shots perfectly, The cast does a fantastic job and as a whole, It tells a rather satisfying story (in a non-linear way) from start to finish. I'd easily put this over Moonlight and it definitely makes me excited to see what Jenkins has to offer next. Expand
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7
Compi24Jan 15, 2019
Acclaimed director Barry Jenkins follows up his 2016 Best Picture winner "Moonlight" with this adaptation of author James Baldwin's "If Beale Street Could Talk." It's a film that ultimately isn't as hard-hitting or as unforgettable as otherAcclaimed director Barry Jenkins follows up his 2016 Best Picture winner "Moonlight" with this adaptation of author James Baldwin's "If Beale Street Could Talk." It's a film that ultimately isn't as hard-hitting or as unforgettable as other pieces about institutional oppression have been in recent cinematic history (i.e. "Boy Erased," "12 Years A Slave," etc.) Though, that doesn't mean it's not without its own specific merits. The acting -- for the most part -- is fine, the intention is solid, and the presentation is appropriately artful. Overall, it may just be a good film struggling mightily to be great. But that doesn't take away from the very clear "good" that exists within it. Expand
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4
foxgroveFeb 21, 2019
Punctuated by some amazing scenes (An early celebration turns violent; the couple menaced by a racist cop)that are very well written and acted, the film is ultimately undone by too many others (Two male friends discussing prison) that arePunctuated by some amazing scenes (An early celebration turns violent; the couple menaced by a racist cop)that are very well written and acted, the film is ultimately undone by too many others (Two male friends discussing prison) that are protracted and uninteresting. One's investment in the story soon dwindles and even admiration for technical achievements (Cinematography; editing; music)diminishes as the film finally limps in at nearly two hours. Also, it has to be said that Regina King's performance (Oscar! Really!) must be one of the most over rated for years. She's fine, but that's it. Expand
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9
BrianMcCriticJan 11, 2019
A hauntingly romantic film with magnificent performances and a phenomenal score. I really fell in love with this film. Overall a solid 9 an A.
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8
moviemitch96Jan 3, 2019
This was a small yet touching and impactful little film about an African American man accused and convicted of a crime he didn't commit in Harlem, New York during the 70s, while his pregnant fiance and her family fight to prove him innocent.This was a small yet touching and impactful little film about an African American man accused and convicted of a crime he didn't commit in Harlem, New York during the 70s, while his pregnant fiance and her family fight to prove him innocent. The film is based on a novel by James Baldwin, and directed by Barry Jenkins (director of Moonlight, which won the best picture Oscar two years ago), and once again, like in that film, Jenkins directs with a natural and masterful eye, capturing plenty of emotion and heart from his actors, complete with captivating cinematography, a beautiful score, and important and universal messages and themes of family, as well as love and acceptance, no matter the race or color of a person. Overall, it may seem rather quiet and understated on the surface, but under it, it has plenty of heart and beauty within it's messages/themes, and everything that the film conveys onscreen. Expand
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5
Rebecca31Feb 24, 2019
Set in 1970s Harlem, a love story between Tish Rivers (KiKi Layne) and Alonzo Hunt aka Fonny (Stephen James). Their lives are torn apart when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Soon after Fonny's arrest 19-year-old TishSet in 1970s Harlem, a love story between Tish Rivers (KiKi Layne) and Alonzo Hunt aka Fonny (Stephen James). Their lives are torn apart when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Soon after Fonny's arrest 19-year-old Tish discovers she is pregnant with his child. With the help of their families they now must do everything in their power to prove Fonny's innocence.

Director Barry Jenkins creates another powerfully emotional story, it's just if we're comparing films here Moonlight is without a doubt far superior. Sometimes a film's plot moves so painfully slow when it's time to make a statement it's too late because the audience has already fallen asleep. No I didn't love If Beale Street Could Talk, the story moved much too slow for me and I found myself losing interest. The score by Nicholas Britell is just as spectacular as the Moonlight soundtrack. A gorgeous soundtrack that I'm still listening to and if it doesn't win the Oscar for Best Original Score I'll be very surprised. But even with the score, the cinematography and the acting everything seemed unnecessarily dragged out. I didn't feel every scene needed to linger so long, it lost its effect and eventually the whole film felt like it was moving in slow motion. Let me be clear that this film isn't for everyone, if you like the look of the trailer then it's recommended.
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10
Dynastie86Jan 1, 2019
After seeing Beale Street twice, there's no doubt in my mind Barry Jenkins is an absolute gift to humanity. The sheer amount of beauty, tenderness and delicacy on display in this film makes it one for the ages. Give KiKi Layne and StephanAfter seeing Beale Street twice, there's no doubt in my mind Barry Jenkins is an absolute gift to humanity. The sheer amount of beauty, tenderness and delicacy on display in this film makes it one for the ages. Give KiKi Layne and Stephan James ALL the things! Expand
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7
amheretojudgeJan 23, 2019
Two Love Birds.

If Beale Street Could Talk Jenkins has made a romantic film whose drama may fiddle around the borders of racism and inequality but its heart lies on demanding answers from humanity. Initially, one would presume it to be a
Two Love Birds.

If Beale Street Could Talk

Jenkins has made a romantic film whose drama may fiddle around the borders of racism and inequality but its heart lies on demanding answers from humanity. Initially, one would presume it to be a film about racism, but there is a lot more to explore than social satire, personally the soothing affectionate love that flows throughout the film spoke to me the most. If its first half is gripping family drama, resisting the obvious judgements of the society, the second half grows more head to head and this deep dive of characterization of his characters is where Jenkins steals the show.

With all the chaos going through the film, there is an easiness in storytelling, the still camera, the illuminating thoughts of Layne, the calm sensible approach to the storm is what encourages you to hold on to it. And unlike Coogler or Lee, Jenkins has never been provocative, his confidence on his textbook productive methods speaks vividly on screen, like within the first few minutes, the conflicts between the family gets bubbled up expressively on the screen which shows his brilliant execution skills.

But then this is no Moonlight, for a brief period Jenkins does lose its audience when the script gets damp, that entire middle act falls under the obligation category, it's that part where to offer a better closure Jenkins had to swoop it up on screen. One of the finest bits of the film is when Layne narrates her version of the world. It is so finely detailed and beautiful written that all of it gets in your bones within a snap, her job description is something that will stay with you throughout the course of the film.

Jenkins may highlight each character by casting bigger actors, but he counts them on script with equal sincerity that leaves a long lasting impression, from Franco to Pascal to Rios to Skrein, each of them gets a unique act to play, that becomes into an antic itself. Even Luna's cameo that is barely there for a scene, casts an impression since the way Layne describes how she observes things. James as the victim of both love and hate, never manages to emerge himself ad more than a pity or a mellow case. While, Layne is the real deal, her carefully constructed and calculative performance is what glues all these characters tightly.

Personally I prefer her in the bits where she is alone, on her own, away from James, that is when her real personality is brought out. King, on her supporting role deserves all the hype she comes with, her sharp bitter tongue whips you for its honesty and generosity. The ultimate final punch of hers which the movie was building towards, her compelling scene with Rios defines her excellence on performance. This project of Jenkins is a bit amiable, satisfied in its own term, If Beale Street Could Talk expands the possibility of the outcomes of a definitive case, in here, the romance conjured by him is his big win.
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8
saltydog99Aug 15, 2019
If Beale Street Could Talk is a great film that does a lot of things really well and some others not so well. Jenkins crafted this movie like a cinematic stage production. The acting backs this up and it caught me off guard at first but IIf Beale Street Could Talk is a great film that does a lot of things really well and some others not so well. Jenkins crafted this movie like a cinematic stage production. The acting backs this up and it caught me off guard at first but I eventually got on board. The cinematography is a huge strength. Laxton shoots some gorgeous scenes and I think could have easily gotten more awards. My main issue with the film though is the writing from Barry Jenkins. The film moves at a snails pace and I think the jumping between times is the main cause. The film is not linear and that is not a problem in itself, but the way Jenkins writes you are pulled out of a moment before you can fully take in what just happened and then thrown into something totally different. I admit this film is great and has amazing qualities, but I did not enjoy it and probably won't watch it again. Expand
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6
Bertaut1Mar 4, 2019
Beautifully shot, but emotionally languid

Based on James Baldwin's 1974 novel of the same name, If Beale Street Could Talk is aesthetically faultless, but much like writer/director Barry Jenkins's previous film, Moonlight (2017), the
Beautifully shot, but emotionally languid

Based on James Baldwin's 1974 novel of the same name, If Beale Street Could Talk is aesthetically faultless, but much like writer/director Barry Jenkins's previous film, Moonlight (2017), the totality is considerably less than the sum of its parts. The biggest problem is the love story. Employing a Terrence Malick-esque esoteric voiceover, Jenkins lifts entire passages directly from Baldwin. However, what reads beautifully in the novel is badly out of place in the film, even in voiceover, and has the effect of rendering the two central characters unrealistic, with their love for one another idealised to such an extent as to become ridiculous.

New York, 1974; 19-year old Clementine "Tish" Rivers (KiKi Layne) and 22-year old Alonzo "Fonny" Hunt (Stephan James) are in love, and planning to get married. However, when Fonny is accused of rape, the victim mistakenly identifies him in a line-up, and he is charged and detained. Awaiting his trial, Tish visits him in jail, telling him she is pregnant, and promising she'll do whatever it takes to get him out before the birth. With this as the central framework, the story is told in a non-linear style, jumping back and forth from one time period to another.

This non-linear structure has an important thematic effect; we know from the second scene that Fonny is in jail, meaning that as we watch Tish and Fonny planning their future, there's a shadow over everything. For the most part, this contributes to the tone of the film. However, Jenkins overuses the technique. I understand why the film is told out of sequence, but not to the extent it is. Compare this with Sean Penn's The Pledge (2001), a linear narrative where he accomplishes the same thing with one out-of-sequence scene at the start of the film. Beale Street, on the other hand, jumps all over the place, never settling into a rhythm, with the cumulative effect one of distraction rather than immersion.

Aesthetically, much like Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk looks amazing. From James Laxton's vibrant cinematography to Caroline Eselin's colour coordinated costume design, everything we see rings true, and much like Moonlight, the influence of Kar-Wai Wong is paramount; seen in the non-linear narrative and relatively slight plot, the poetic tone, the centrality of music, and the tendency to use visuals rather than dialogue to convey thematic points.

As in both Medicine for Melancholy (2008) and Moonlight, Jenkins occasionally has characters speak directly to camera. They're not breaking the fourth wall, however. Such scenes are dialogue scenes, with the camera between the characters. It's a technique that was used most famously in The Silence of the Lambs, where each character looked into camera when speaking to Clarisse, whereas she always looked just slightly off-camera, setting up a fascinating visual contrast which encourages us to identify with her. Beale Street doesn't do anything as interesting or subtle with the technique, but Jenkins's tendency to use it during moments of heightened emotion does suture us into the milieu of the film.

However, a serious problem at the film's core is the love story, wherein Fonny and Tish just don't seem like real people, not in the way they gaze into one another's eyes as if they are seeing each other for the first time, not in the way they speak to one another as if every syllable is of earth-shattering portentousness. They rarely speak normally; instead, they adopt the eloquence of James Baldwin. In lifting sections directly from the novel, Jenkins forgets that what works on the page, doesn't necessarily work on the screen, and the reproduction of Baldwin's rich and lugubrious prose is simply unrealistic, with the delivery sounding stilted and awkward, and, most egregiously, far beyond the lexicon of the characters.

Another problem concerns the depiction of Bell (Ed Skrein), the racist cop who frames Fonny. Played as a leering pantomime villain, with bad hair, bad teeth, and bad skin, he's obviously a metaphor for the ugliness of racism, but he's so completely over the top, it rips you right out of the film. On the other hand, Regina King's portrayal of Tish's mother, Sharon, is exceptional.

Beale Street is an undeniably beautiful film that depicts the love between two astonishingly attractive people (it's worth noting that in the novel, Fonny's unattractiveness is emphasised). However, Jenkins's interpretation turns Fonny and Tish into a Ken and Barbie-esque couple. Taking a meditative approach to the material, Jenkins's adaptation never rings true. Whereas Baldwin's Tish and Fonny are flawed, contradictory, and relatable, Jenkins's protagonists are too-perfect-to-be-real, with every agonisingly serious pronouncement they make to one another pushing them further and further away from connecting with the audience on an emotional level.
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8
JackusBlackusJan 17, 2019
This is a very beautiful film that excels in every way, except that it seems slow in places. Some scenes seem to drift or linger a little too long, perhaps in order to give the viewer a chance to reflect. Other than that, the story, theThis is a very beautiful film that excels in every way, except that it seems slow in places. Some scenes seem to drift or linger a little too long, perhaps in order to give the viewer a chance to reflect. Other than that, the story, the script, and the acting are great. It deserves awards. Expand
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4
QhasiFeb 5, 2019
I need to find the book and read it. I know for a fact that it's far better than this film. I struggled through it, hoping that there was some smash of an ending. Instead I was bored stiff. The movie is not as bad as it could have beenI need to find the book and read it. I know for a fact that it's far better than this film. I struggled through it, hoping that there was some smash of an ending. Instead I was bored stiff. The movie is not as bad as it could have been though. The saddest part is that it was just a skip and a hop and a slightly better script away from being great. Kudos to the cast though. They were mesmerizing. Expand
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4
bataguilaJun 5, 2019
Aburrida. No se merece el oscar la que ganó, solo salió 10min. Lo unico bueno es el vals de la peli
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8
ahmedaiman1999Jan 31, 2019
Barry Jenkins once again boasts his prodigious, unearthly talent of visual storytelling. But this time he enhanced it by the magical Power of Love. And here we have a piece of visual poetry!

Despite incorporating narration in its
Barry Jenkins once again boasts his prodigious, unearthly talent of visual storytelling. But this time he enhanced it by the magical Power of Love. And here we have a piece of visual poetry!

Despite incorporating narration in its storytelling, the movie leans heavily on its sensory aspect and its rich, haunting atmosphere
in every scene to convey emotion. With the help of James Laxton's richly hued cinematography, and Nicholas Britell's score which is brimming with love, hope and also darkness, Jenkins weaves Baldwin's tragic romantic story into a tender cinematic experience that could easily be mistaken as a poem.

I have some issues with the dialogue, though. I think it needed to be more gritty, hence more convincing and compelling. There's no doubt that Jenkins' reliance on the atmosphere he created to give the movie its emotional impact paid off marvelously for the most part. But some moments in the movie I found to be too soupy and mushy for its own good. These moments I found a bit hard to swallow, especially when the movie tackles some heavy themes like racism.

The chapter-like narrative technique was a mixed bag for me. While it made me eager to know more and more about the characters and the story in general as the plot unravels slowly; almost time the movie introduces to me a new sub-plot, or rather a new chapter in its story, I felt it to be forced, heavy-handed and a little on the nose at at first glance. Especially, because of the simplicity of the dialogue as I mentioned above. That said, Barry Jenkins' tender, exquisite and superbly elegant direction, along with the massively amiable and endearing protagonists, makes me thoroughly engrossed and immersed in every single scene in no time.

KiKi Layne and Stephan James's captivating performances made their already-relatable characters even more sympathetic and appealing. Regina King is great. But, unfortunately, she has few moments to shine. Pedro Pascal, Diego Luna, and Dave Franco are quite good, but their roles are too small to show their acting talents.
Ed Skrein's acting was a bit hammy, IMO. On the other hand, Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta), whose role is also small, delivered a terrific performance that made his scenes stick in my mind even now.

Maybe I criticized the movie a bit too harsh. But it's actually way more easy to mention the few issues I have with it than to describe the arresting experience I had watching it.

(8/10)
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7
m15964Mar 30, 2019
This movie is so slow in telling the story and I think its because of time! I mean if it would not tried to be so slow like what is it now, the runtime of the movie would be sth around 30 mins. But, It's still watchable and I suggest it toThis movie is so slow in telling the story and I think its because of time! I mean if it would not tried to be so slow like what is it now, the runtime of the movie would be sth around 30 mins. But, It's still watchable and I suggest it to everyone all around the world. Expand
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9
IsaacJFeb 16, 2019
Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning coming-of-age film, Moonlight has been heralded by critics and audiences alike as a masterpiece in arthouse filmmaking. Here, he follows up with If Beale Street Could Talk, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s novelBarry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning coming-of-age film, Moonlight has been heralded by critics and audiences alike as a masterpiece in arthouse filmmaking. Here, he follows up with If Beale Street Could Talk, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel that tells the story of young, African-American lovers, Tish (Kiki Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James) against the backdrop of institutional racism. To meet a bar set as high as by Moonlight is quite a feat, but Jenkins is not one to disappoint; If Beale Street Could Talk is a gorgeous film, poetic, visceral and oozing with sensuality. The story flits effortlessly back and forth through time, from graceful interludes of Tish and Fonny’s early relationship to the understatedly gritty present, as a pregnant Tish fights for the release of Fonny, who has been imprisoned on a trumped-up rape charge. Wherever the film is in time, it is decidedly timeless, a love story told with tenderness and a dignity and respect for its characters. The perfectly matched combination of Jenkins’ script and attentive direction immerse us within the film with a totality one rarely feels. There’s a dazed slowness to the narrative, as it lilts from moments of humour to those of beauty and gritty realism with ease.
The performances are equally fantastic, underplayed yet unfailingly believable and effective. Kiki Layne and Stephan James’ leads are terrific, their scenes glowing with intimacy. The film’s real stand out performer, however, is Regina King, playing Kiki’s protective mother with a poised brilliance. What is so rewarding about If Beale Street Could Talk is the myriad of relationships that we see play out on screen, not only between the central lovers, but between sisters, friends, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives. “Love is what brought you here”, says King’s Sharon most wisely; truly, this film can only be described as an evocation of love in all forms, sensuous and naked, yet wonderfully heartfelt.
If Beale Street Could Talk is only made all the more impressive by its design elements, all cleverly judged and executed with a gentle brilliance. James Laxton’s camera swoops woozily between characters, settling slowly on moments of profundity in the acting before sweeping overhead to give us a greater look at Jenkins’ world, painstaking in period detail. What accentuates the film the most, however, is Nicholas Britell’s score, so expressive and moving it seems to become a whole other character in itself. The score sings of the characters so perfectly it is bound to bring one to tears.
Moonlight is a spectacular film (a favourite of mine), and If Beale Street Could Talk echoes of its elegance and immersion, yet with a slower and gentler touch that blooms with true compassion for its characters and story. An important story it is too, trenchant and topical; Jenkins is a marvellous filmmaker whose love for his craft lies evident in his work.
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5
Joshua_GMar 2, 2019
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Beale Street is a movie with a decent (if not particularly original) premise, a stellar cast and a strong cinematic look that is let down by BIG pacing issues and rambling plot-line, full of underdeveloped characters. Positives:
- Some excellent acting
- Shot beautifully
- Wardrobe feels authentic and eye catching
- Great original soundtrack
- Makes (some) strong political points Negatives:
- Very slow paced (to no positive effect)
- Meandering story line and full of scenes which go nowhere
- Numerous one dimensional characters
- Clumsy handling of political issues
- Some of the most dull sex scenes I've ever seen in a movie (despite to beautiful leading actors) The film clearly wants to send a message about the injustice of American race relations but seems to lack any care for a balanced view. The white cop is a sneering, greasy, scum bag who has little to no dialogue and his motivations for framing 'Fonny' are never made clear. This makes the films message of racial injustice and unfair discrimination feel somewhat hollow and hypocritical.
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5
D_M_NonceNov 9, 2019
Proposal
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a) Read Baldwin's novel;
b) Watch Jenkins' film;
c) Judge for yourself how well the film translates the novel.
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8
loremApr 1, 2020
A beautifully shot movie, with an emotional story surrounded by hope and helplessness at the same time.
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