23 January 2019 | merelyaninnuendo
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.