If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
Directed by Barry Jenkins
Based on If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
Screenplay by Barry Jenkins
Starring: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King
A young woman from Harlem (Layne) is struggling to build a life with her boyfriend. When he is faced criminal charges, she begins looking for a way to exonerate him.
This movie is based on the book If Beale Street Could Talk, written by James Baldwin (Where the Heart Is) and published in 1974. Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) wrote the script and directed the film. The film stars KiKi Layne (Native Son), Stephan James (Selma), Regina King (Friday) and many other talented people.
James Baldwin’s story was crafted into a very good screenplay by Barry Jenkins. As a whole, the film blends love with brutal honesty with great skill. The characters are wonderfully crafted, with a realism that leads to some great moments. The relationships are also nicely written, helping the interactions feel honest and real. This story is not told in chronological order, and uses some unique devices to tell the story. Luckily, this doesn’t feel gimmicky and isn’t overused. The dialogue is strong, and the story refuses to look away when things get uncomfortable. In the end, this is a fascinating and powerful story that pays off despite refusing to wrap everything up in a nice package. Barry Jenkins was honored with an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on this one.
The actors did an amazing job throughout this movie. KiKi Layne leads the way with an impressive performance that is central to the film. She handles the wide range of emotional demands without ever over-playing her part. She also makes great connections with the rest of the cast. Stephan James plays opposite Layne with great success. His performance is passionate and intense, bringing out a lot of passion in his character. Regina King also does an incredible job in this one. She brings out all of the right personality traits that her characters needed. Overall, the entire cast does a wonderful job with this script. Regina King took home an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her stellar performance.
In addition to the writing and acting, this one also succeeds in a number of other areas. The unique storytelling is aided by some nice visual choices that are designed to get the attention of the audience. The cinematography does a nice job creating fitting visuals for the script. The sets and costuming also add a great layer of authenticity to the film. The sound work on this film also does all the right things. Composer Nicholas Britell (The Big Short) was nominated for Best Original Score for his contribution to this one.
This is an incredible movie from beginning to end. The story allows the audience to follow the journey of a collection of fascinating characters. The story is bold, and doesn’t look away from the tough moments. If you’re a fan of great drama, this is one you need to see. I would also suggest this one to fans of the stars. Their performances are wonderful. I give this one 4.8 out of 5 stars.