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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz

If Beale Street Could Talk

“An Ocean of Triumph”


If Beale Street Could Talk is an ocean of triumph for Barry Jenkins who is at the top of his excellence. He is a director who has no idea just how much is coming his way as his vision for If Beale Street Could Talk has no distinction between love and perfection. He has crafted a delicate archway every aspiring filmmaker should walk through as he is a person that was born to inspire people with his work.

The film which is based on the novel by James Baldwin is about Tish Rivers and Fonnie Hunt, a young African-American couple in early 1970s Harlem. They have known each other their whole lives and the love they have for one another is the love others only dream of. They are both such great people who have heart all around them and underneath their surfaces is just more heart. They are the kind of people who should be running this country. As soon as I saw them in the opening scene, I knew something bad was going to happen to them. Bad things seem to always happen to good people and these people literally become sand in a shattered hourglass. Fonnie is falsely accused of a devastating crime and imprisoned. Tish discovers she is pregnant with his child and with her beautiful family, attempts to free him before their child is born.

Tish is played with beauty and devotion by the ravishing Kiki Layne whose breakthrough performance is hers to hold and never let go of... She is the only one who could have ever played Tish as it’s far too late to imagine her portrayed by anyone else. If Beale Street Could Talk is her ticket and she is entitled to use it to fly anywhere she wants.

Stephen James who plays Fonnie will always have a special place in my heart because he is a male who understands the importance of portraying men with passionate vulnerability and emotional affection. He is someone everyone should aspire to be as he will put himself last without hesitation. Tish and her family are the most important things to him and just being with them fills his lungs with air.

Tish’s family are entirely responsible for why she is the person she is, and they are the embodiment of what a family is supposed to be. Colman Domingo is so adorably lovable as Joseph Rivers. He makes it crystal clear that his daughters’ pregnancy is nothing to be ashamed of and he is so devotedly proud of her. The scenes in which he takes care of a very pregnant Tish are especially tear jerking. Teyonah Parris is humorous and bold as Ernestine Rivers. She is that soul who loves her baby sister and lets anyone who gives her a hard time have it. She is her protector and emotional bodyguard.

Despite the power all these artists bring, it is Regina King’s Sharon Rivers who is the crown jewel of this film. She is not just a mother but a guardian angel to every good person she comes across. She is a wise old soul with a lot to say, so all audiences better put their listening ears on because she’s just started to talk and she’s not even close to being finished. Sharon Rivers is Regina King’s spirit as they are the same person living in different times. Not only did King just win a Golden Globe and not only will she be nominated for an Oscar and not only should she win, I demand that she win. She is one of those extremely rare people who is always right so don’t argue with her. Because guess what, if you argue with her, you will never win. Ok? Never win. She is a beautiful role model for everyone, and goodness knows the world needs more of them.

The music and cinematography of the film are like next door neighbors you want to drop by unannounced as more often than not, they are always in the same scene. Cinematographer, James Laxton paints the film with all the lightings and colors of the soul. His vision makes those in the darkness see the light. Composer, Nicholas Britell must be a very maternal man as he composes with the music of the afterlife as the score you hear is too beautiful and out of this world. It’s the kind of music that will help you fall asleep as it’s so loving and soothing the way lullabies are.

I’ll conclude by acknowledging If Beale Street Could Talk is a once in a blue moon film that will go down in history. It is love at its finest. It’s a film about affliction, damage, rescue, family and above all, love. What audiences need to do with this film is precisely what Sharon Rivers reminds her daughters.

"If you trusted love this far, don’t panic now. Trust it all the way."

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