This February, make a date to go watch this film at HOME Mcr.
It seems natural that Barry Jenkins settled on James Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk for his first post-Moonlight film project.
At Beale Street’s world premiere in Toronto, Jenkins was introduced as a filmmaker whose movies are not just about love, but are themselves love letters to the audience. And Beale Street is both a love story and one suffused by love for its characters, as well as the world in which they’re trying to get by.
That’s familiar territory for Jenkins, who tells unconventional stories of love and intimacy about black America.
His 2008 debut Medicine for Melancholy is about a one-night stand between a social activist and a young, affluent professional that turns into a long day of talking about everything, including the differences that may keep them apart.
His 2016 film Moonlight, which won the Best Picture Oscar, is a triptych spanning three stages of a young man’s life as he grasps for connection and comes to term with desire.
If Beale Street Could Talk applies that approach to 1970s New York City, centering on a young black couple who grew up together, then fell in love. And then conflict takes over – not from inside their relationship, but pressing in from the outside world.
It’s a beautiful, lyrical film, at times feeling (as Moonlight did) like a tone poem or a lyrical plaint: though Jenkins’s filmmaking is near-perfect and the film’s images are indelible, without Baldwin’s prose it may scan more as a series of vignettes than a narrative feature film.
But it’s nonetheless hard not to fall under If Beale Street Could Talk’s somber, lustrous spell.
The film shows at HOME Mcr from Friday 8 February 2019.