A woman in Harlem embraces her pregnancy while she and her family struggle to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime.
If Beale Street Could Talk…what would it say? What would it have seen? Barry Jenkins’ (Moonlight) latest film has far less to do with the actual street, which the introduction of the film explains. His cinematographer James Laxton takes focus on the subject of young lovers Tish and Fonny (KiKi Layne and Stephan James) and their trials after he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit while she becomes pregnant with his child before incarceration. Based on the book by James Baldwin, the film conveys great loyalty to the source material, being both an act of lyrical imagery and sociological observation.The film’s tagline, “Trust Love All The Way,” serves as a meditation as one watches this film unfold like poetry. Laxton’s camera often paints portraits of the characters involved, all which play important roles in the drama. Noteworthy in this ensemble are Regina King and Colman Domingo as Tish’s parents, extending beyond just warmth and parental support as ways of adding streams of perspective and empathy. In another ace performance is Brian Tyree Henry as a friend of Fonny’s who, in a foreshadowing scene, shares his traumatic experience in prison. The craftsmanship of the film and the performances fold together seamlessly. If the film gets at all bogged down, it is only because of the more literal legalism that Jenkins seems to feel responsible to cover. It is an act of thoroughness, but it is when the film really becomes poetic that Jenkins strides the greatest. At the end of the film, there is only love at all cost, making Beale Street a remarkable film and message for our time.