If Beale Street Could Talk ★★★★★

The Review Is Below The Line

So every now and again, I get the urge to write a film review. Only, the effort of maintaining a blog is haaaaaard and presssuuuuuuured, so I usually do all the fun blog designy bits and then run out of steam. I figured if I do a review or two here, the need to set up a blog is gone and I can get straight to the review...

So, on that note.



From the director of Moonlight, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (2018) is an exquisitely ephemeral celluloid heartache. It captures with a shimmeringly nostalgic air the bursting love of two young people in 1970s Harlem, and how circumstances both historic and politic vie to break that love.

Based on the book by James Baldwin, the film is less a narrative than a series of moments snatched, caressed, and held tight, lest the world intrude and break in. And, because it is 1970s Harlem, and the protagonists are all black, the world does just that. And the love is tested and prodded and pulled and you question whether the world is a just place for the way it treats these people. And you are meant to question that. And, 40 years later, we still question that, because the world is not a just place. But it is a place that, in the midst of hate, and anger, and ignorance, love can make itself manifest. And it's not a picture book, fairy tale. It's not a girl-meets-boy and they live happily ever after story, because the world isn't like that. But it is real. Wonderfully, tangibly real. For all the hazy idealistic cinematography, beautifully shot by James Laxton, and the score by Nicholas Britell, redolent with Herrmann-esque beats and saxophone cues, this is a film that gently thrums to the beat of the real world.

The message of tolerance and the fight for acceptance is there. Where BlacKkKlansman makes that message the prime motivator, the politics of anger and justifiable bitterness, here Jenkins takes that and it beats insistently in the background, always present, never ignored. It is the bassline to a film where the truth of love and the strength of family adds the harmony above. It is a music that is dissonant, but resolute, and it has heart and truth at its core.

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK is a marvel. Let it take you on its journey, move you to its beat, and believe that love is the strongest superpower.