If Beale Street Could Talk ★★★★

If Beale Street Could Talk is a gorgeous film with the purest love driving its characters through circumstances that are heartbreaking. The connection between Fonny and Tish is a love so deep that I found myself moved by many of James and Layne's scenes together.

Many times throughout the film, Barry Jenkins shows us their life together in flashbacks with an optimism that flies in the face of the racism that drives the era, the location, the country as a whole. There's a moment after a beautiful scene with a prospective landlord (played by Dave Franco) where they are walking down the street and explode with celebration. It nearly moved me to tears not only because I loved the love they shared, but because the movie has shown me their future and it made my heart ache for what they were going to lose.

The movie doesn't show us Fonny's life behind bars. Instead, we are treated to a conversation between Fonny and an old friend who was recently released from a two year stint. Bryan Tyree Henry plays Daniel in this scene to absolute perfection. Henry's distant and vague candor about life on the inside and how it broke him is one of the most haunting and devastating scenes I've seen in a while. And it leaves us with the painful imagination of what Fonny will be going through.

If Beale Street Could Talk leads us through a story that is about the African American experience and how the criminal justice system stacks the deck. It's heartbreaking as it guides us through Tish and Fonny's story and leaves us with the knowledge that this is just one example of lives forever damaged by racism. It's a movie I won't soon forget.