If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

R   |    |  Drama, Romance


If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) Poster

A woman in Harlem embraces her pregnancy while she and her family struggle to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime.

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7.3/10
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  • James Laxton in If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
  • KiKi Layne in If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
  • Colman Domingo at an event for If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
  • Pedro Pascal in If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
  • Stephan James at an event for If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
  • Stephan James in If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

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28 November 2018 | mharah
6
| Maybe I expected too much.
This film is based on James Baldwin's novel of the same name. I read it at the time and was very moved. It told me so much I didn't know. But that was in 1974, and one has heard the same story over and over since then. Barry Jenkins is telling a period piece, a mood piece. It is brilliantly acted and gorgeously shot. The music is too loud, but maybe that is deliberately appropriate. The narrative moves very slowly, with the deceptive languor of the South. That might work if it were set in the South, but it's not; it's Harlem. It has the feel of 1974, and it certainly could be New York - or Philadelphia or Baltimore - or Chicago or Detroit (which was only beginning to disintegrate then). In short, it doesn't feel tethered. Memphis, it is not. The result is that, unlike Moonlight, which was very involving, this film is rather stereotypical. Again, that was new in 1974. But not now. Today, we see the same stories over and over on TV screens - some of which are sadly still all too true, and others which are probably ginned up and definitely exploitive. I kept looking at my watch and thinking, "will nothing ever happen?", and it didn't. In short, If Beale Street Could Talk does look impressive. (Jenkins' fans are already gushing. And I am one, but I'm not blown away.) Moonlight it is not.

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