If Beale Street Could Talk ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

We first meet Tish and Fonny in the beginning, walking through the New York equivalent of nature (a park staircase) wearing outfits that both prominently feature the same hues of rich blue and yellow. Get them matching and saturated while you can, because this will be the last of it for a long time. In prison, where we next see Tish, she's wearing a pale green jacket, while Fonny is in prison blues, against a washed-out yellow wall, a dim reminder of what he's left behind. (The wall behind Tish is blue.)

Blue and yellow have been with them since childhood; their innocent bath is tiled blue, and they dry in yellow towels. Both of them are light-hued. Tish holds onto the light hues for longer, wearing a light-blue sweater when they find their loft, only to have their future happiness crushed later in the evening. Fonny is wearing a dark mustard top, and we see the limits of his patience in this scene as he crushes the bag with the tomatoes against the wall. (Red, oft tied to passion, being prominent in the jacket Fonny wears on their first date and featuring in the plaid shirt their child wears at the end.)

The synthesis of yellow and blue is green, but it's a trick bringing it together. When Tish's mother arrives in Puerto Rico, she's hopeful she can do just that, wearing a bold green dress. By the time she's gone out for the evening, her reserve has cracked a bit, and she's moved into a more diffuse pattern with fragments of green. Her morning dress is different again, a natural pattern with the hues of green wildly separate. Appeals to justice will not bring this union together.

This scene is followed by a final scene behind glass in the prison. I believe it's the only scene where Fonny isn't wearing blue. He's been beaten, physically, and he learns of the bad news. And yet, the yellow around him is fucking *glowing*. He has let go of his aggression, his Shakespearan flaw, and accepted that he must play by the rules, and fully embrace this love, no matter how the system forces a black man to suffer. (Tish, meanwhile, is wearing her green dress with red plaid, a synthesis of fully realised adult love and a dollop of passion.)

From here, we go (via a trip to the basement studio) to the birth scene. Tish is naked in the tub, but her mother is there ... with a green towel (with natural patterns) on her shoulder. As Tish holds the baby, green lens flares play on the camera.

We learn that Fonny takes a plea, and we see a shot of them looking at each other as - they were? they hope to be? One wears yellow shirt and blue jacket, one wears blue shirt and yellow jacket. This never becomes a scene. Instead, we go to prison. Their son is wearing red. Fonny, who has remained calm and loving, wears a dark green jumpsuit. Tish wears a blue skirt and white blouse with red and green flowers. Someday, they will walk in nature, no longer identical, but complementary in their selves. Until then, they will live under the demands of the system, and find their own way to blossom.