Based on James Baldwin’s novel, If Beale Street Could Talk is a moving and emotional love story set in 1970’s Harlem. Tish (Kiki Layne) and Alfonso (Stephan James) have their sights set on a beautiful future together, however, everything is derailed when Alfonso is arrested for a crime he did not commit.
Director, Barry Jenkins, delivers a simple, beautiful and touching film that speaks volumes on social injustices, race and the power of love. What is so astounding about If Beale Street Could Talk is the juxtaposition between the film’s aesthetic beauty and its despairing themes.
You cannot help but relish in the intricate and understated beauty that is so carefully curated in every single shot. This beauty creates a very authentic intimacy that helps us feel so connected to Tish and Alfonso’s love story. We hurt for them. We cheer for them. We are there for them during every step in their relationship as it grows and strengthens.
If Beale Street boasts strong performances, but none that really wowed me. I had very high expectations going into the film for Regina King’s performance as Tish’s strongwilled and supportive mother. Don’t get me wrong. She’s incredible. However, I never got that WOW moment that I have gotten from so many other performances this awards season.
Final Thoughts: Jenkins succeeds at bringing If Beale Street Could Talk to life, with breathtaking cinematography and tender storytelling.