IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK
* * * (Joyce)
* * ½ (Don)
(Depressing love story)
Joyce, the Romantic, liked this depressing love story based on a James Baldwin love story better than I did.
Barry Jenkins, fresh off his Best Picture Oscar for “Moonlight,” gives us another realistic look at the struggles minorities face with authority figures and prejudice. The movie is beautifully filmed and acted, but the story, with its impending doom, is a real downer.
Kiki Lane and Stephan James are excellent as the star-crossed lovers, Tish and Fonny, as is Regina King as Tish’s strong, compassionate mother.
The film focuses on the young lovers, emphasizing the obstacles they need to overcome as Tish becomes pregnant while Fonny is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. It was hard for me to conceive the inept defense Fonny received, and I had hoped that the movie would address more of the legal issues that led to his lengthy incarceration.
Narrated by Lane’s sympathetic character, with many flashbacks, Beale Street does talk to its audience, crying out for understanding and compassion for the under-served and underprivileged.
Tish is the epitome of hope, never losing her faith, which she has gotten from her mother, while you can feel the hopelessness and disillusion in Folly’s body language and eyes. You will leave the theatre disturbed at what life has handed these two innocent, good people, and yes, feeling some of the frustration and guilt for a society that has not given them a fair deal.
Is Beale Steet a good movie, deserving of attention? Most certainly. But you won’t leave the theatre with the same feeling you had for Mary Poppins.
Rated R, with sex and profanity.