This review was originally published from the New York Film Festival in October. The movie expands into wider release this weekend.
Barry Jenkins is a director of rare precision and skill in bringing out the soul of his films. Following up one of the most deserving Best Picture Oscar winners since the turn of the century, the Moonlight helmer has devised a visually nurturing love letter to author James Baldwin. An adaptation of his 1974 novel of the same name, If Beale Street Could Talk is packed to the brim with details that instate a dreamlike quality on this Harlem period romance.
With all the racism in today’s world seemingly getting louder, Jenkins smartly chooses to keep the novel within the era it was written to send a message of love that feels more classic than contemporary, while also dealing with issues disturbingly still relevant today. The script not only discusses the injustices our legal system serves on black people, especially the men, it juxtaposes them against the ongoing sexual assault conversation to tell a rich, complex story that digs into the layers of societal issues currently making headlines.