For the follow-up to his Oscar-winning hit and Film Circuit favourite Moonlight, Barry Jenkins returns with this moving period piece about a pregnant woman fighting to prove her fiancé’s innocence after he is wrongfully jailed for rape. Based on James Baldwin’s 1974 novel of the same name, If Beale Street Could Talk marks the first English-language film adaptation of the legendary US writer and activist’s work.
Set in the early 1970s in the predominantly Latin American community of East Harlem, the film follows Tish (newcomer Kiki Layne), a 19-year-old woman who falls in love with Fonny (Stephan James, Selma), a young sculptor. Their brief idyll is broken when Fonny is suddenly arrested, placed in a police lineup—in which he is the only Black man—and framed for the rape of a local woman. Tish, who has just discovered she is pregnant, and her family must fight to prove Fonny’s innocence. With this thought-provoking and still-timely story, Jenkins manages to preserve both the politics and the romantic spirit of Baldwin’s celebration of the power of love and hope in times of despair.
One of the most highly anticipated films of the year, If Beale Street Could Talk reunites writer-director Jenkins with Moonlight’s powerhouse production team for a stunning and honest story of an American couple determined to fight for love, freedom and justice in their own society.
“Jenkins captures the humor, verve, and considerable complexity of the prose.” (Jason Bailey, The Playlist)
“In some ways Beale feels less like a movie than a well-staged, meticulously shot play; a period piece that floats beyond its specific time and place and into the realm of allegory.” (Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly)
“It’s a film with love at its root, both familial and romantic, and Jenkins fills so much of it with a radiating warmth.” (Benjamin Lee, The Guardian)