Guest Blog: The Dazzling Romance of If Beale Street Could Talk
Bold, brooding and dazzlingly beautiful, this slow-burning melancholic romance is a must-see.
If Beale Street Could Talk is the much anticipated follow up to Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning Moonlight and fans of his painterly aesthetic will appreciate this labour of love. Adapted from James Baldwin’s 1974 Novel by the same name, Jenkins’ film is a romance of people and place; an homage to a time when things were both simpler and more sinister.
Star crossed lovers, Tish and Fonny are poised to begin their lives together and their devotion to each other is echoed through a powerful and palpable performance by the two newcomers, KiKi Layne and Stephen James. What seems like a bright and hopeful future together is unceremoniously disrupted when corruption and tragedy combine, forcing them to fight for both their love and freedom.
Jenkins’ portrayal of a family in crisis transcends the confines of the screen, sweeping its way into the hearts of the viewer. Tish’s loved ones become the army that surround her, battling at her side to save her and Fonny’s future. Even as all seems lost, their hope and resilience are a testament to the bond of familial love.
If Beale Street Could Talk is a poetic rendition of a dark period in history that somehow simultaneously captures the beat of Harlem in the 70’s yet remains current and relatable. Every detail of this film, from the costumes to the BAFTA-winning score, is painstakingly constructed to create a world harking back to the past and reflecting injustices in the present.
As we flash back between moments of blissful serenity and agonising pain, the barriers between these moments and memories dissolve; for a time, we all become like Tish and Fonny, desperate to reach through the glass that separates us so that we too may feel the warmth that resonates between them.
Rich colour palettes give the film an almost otherworldly feel. Such is Jenkins’ devotion to his two young lovers, that he bathes them golden hues and makes them glow with a sense of unbridled youth and innocence. If you were to pause the film at any minute, each delicately crafted frame would be worthy of a place in a gallery. Jenkins is a masterful artist with much knowledge and respect for the cinema landscape, and the fact remains that no other director out there is capturing love on screen quite like him.