xan’s review published on Letterboxd:
Seen at NYFF 10.09.18
Recognizing Barry Jenkins’ consistent infatuation with [black] love on film, I knew watching this was going to be another masterful picture. The amazing costume design, the cinematography and color tones, and the soulful performances all contributed to the compelling story adapted by Baldwin.
It’s a film primarily focused on love and how it configures under systemic scrutiny. Fonny (Stephan James) is a man under pressure by the system, while Tish (Kiki Layne) is the consolidating figure who stabilizes him (that stability being the reminder of his new family). It’s an elaborate tension that carries on throughout the film as we wait for what happens to Fonny and Tish, along with the newfound love they’ve developed for one another. Stephan James and KiKi Layne couldn’t have done a better job with representing their relationship through the love in their roles.
If Beale Street Could Talk, as a film, is a romantic, nightmarish journey that uncovers what it means to be loved, scrutinized, and black. It’s told through an abundance of unique characters and compelling, warm imagery. It’s ending isn’t triumphant, but so realistic I couldn’t help but accept it with a smile (and a few tears). It’s heart felt and amazing and it’s definitely another great classic from Jenkins.