This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. If you would like to keep up with our content, click here.
Synopsis: Based on the novel by James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk, is the story of Tish, a newly engaged Harlem woman who races against the clock to prove her lover’s innocence while carrying their first-born child to term. It is a celebration of love told through the story of a young couple, their families and their lives, trying to bring about justice through love, for love and the promise of the American dream. (eOne Films)
Starring: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, and Regina King
Writer: Barry Jenkins
Director: Barry Jenkins
Rating: R (United States)
Running Time: 117mins
Barry Jenkins has been someone to look out for in the minds of many – especially after his sophomore, independently produced feature, Moonlight, won best picture in 2017. Inevitably, the hype for his third feature, based on the novel by James Baldwin, was going to be as high as it is right now. However, what he decides to do with the story here is very ambitious – and you may see this for the best or the worst. After watching the film, his latest passion project is unfortunately slightly disappointing. If Beale Street Could Talk may be a well meant and intentioned film, however, it is a bit too convoluted to ever be fully engaging.
To begin, the way that Jenkins uses a non linear narrative that jumps back and forth in time to encapsulate the tragic saga of these characters simply feels too extravagant and overdone for a story and production of its kind. Additionally, a lot of the dialogue came off as soap opera-esque when executed in this way. Ultimately, these issues didn’t detract too much from what are some amazing performances from Layne, Joseph, and King, along with some of the best cinematography and one of the best scores in recent memory.
Although this film didn’t feel fully realized, it was still pretty solid – many will surely love this one, and a best picture nomination among others seems inevitable at this point.