If Beale Street Could Talk, 6/10, is the big screen adaptation of the 1974 novel by James Baldwin, directed here by Barry Jenkins (Director of 2016 best picture winner, Moonlight) as he attempts to breathe new life into the story. Moonlight had me pondering for hours over how much I liked it, the cinematography was superb and the character interactions phenomenal but the pacing seemed to make me lose interest. Sadly, If Beale Street Could Talk didn’t have enough positive moments to save it from following a similar path.
The narrative focuses around two young sweethearts, Tish (Kiki Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James). Tish struggles to prove her fiancé innocent for a crime he didn’t commit while coming to terms with her early pregnancy. Unfortunately the film then relies heavily on character development through chaotic flashbacks to move the narrative any further than what we already know within the opening 20 minutes. Now whether this is intentional or not, 1 hour and 40 minutes later you can’t help but lapse your attention. I whole heartedly believed every part of their romance and Jenkins has a skill for capturing the unspoken exchanges beautifully. However this takes up a substantial chunk of screen time and doesn’t leave much else left to get invested in.
A big element of the film is the recurring false imprisonment of innocent black males in America and how that has often been brushed under the carpet to keep up appearances. So seeing this subject depicted on the big screen is brilliant, however I would of expected/hoped for this to have been explored a bit more in the plot given that is technically the main driving force behind the narrative. I feel the success of this film is heavily riding on the back of acclaim held by Moonlight. There are moments of incredible cinema but they are merely moments. As always, go along and see for yourself to let me know what you thought.
Entertainment (of its Genre): 6/10
Overall rating….. 6/10