Let’s Get Reel: If Beale Street Could Talk

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Let’s Get Reel: If Beale Street Could Talk

Christian Foley ’20, Life & Style Columnist

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It may be impossible for director Barry Jenkins to make a film better than Moonlight, but If Beale Street Could Talk certainly gave it a run for its money.

Following the life of an ordinary African American family in Harlem, audiences see first-hand the effects of racism, problems within the United States legal system and how a family deals with these issues. We see the heartbreak that a young couple in love must deal with when a young man (Fonny, played by Stephan James) is wrongly convicted of rape by a racist police officer. 

In a scene of pure love and excitement, Fonny and Tish (KiKi Layne) buy their first apartment together, thinking falsely that they have their entire lives ahead of them when in reality that was not the case. That scene, which showed hope for the future, was the epitome of heartbreak. We see the complexity of two families handling not only their children’s relationship, but also Fonny’s false rape conviction. 

They are not perfect, they are neither saintly nor criminal; they are real. They are genuine. How these two families deal with the challenges placed upon them is startlingly eye-opening. They do whatever it takes to try and free the young man they love. Sometimes they crack and sometimes they fall and struggle to continue but they do because they have to. The conditions set upon them seem unfair and cruel and yet they still laugh and smile through the tears they hide from their loved ones so as not to cause fear. 

Barry Jenkins cemented himself with this film as not just a one and done director. He is here to stay as one of this generations top filmmakers. 

How Bohemian Rhapsody and Black Panther were nominated over If Beale Street Could Talk for Best Picture is beyond me, but at least we can take comfort in the fact that Jenkins will have several more opportunities to win this award in years to come. 

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