Real quick before I start, why does Barry Jenkins love putting shots like this in his movies lol
No but seriously I just saw Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk” which I’ve been trying to go see for WEEKS, and it has been well worth the wait. For those of you who don’t know Barry Jenkins directed Moonlight which in my opinion, is not only one of the best movies of 2016, but also one of the best movies ever. So, when I heard about Barry’s newest movie I had to see it and wow, it was amazing.
Beale Street takes place in Harlem during the ’70s with a young couple who is expecting. However, Fonny (Stephen James) becomes wrongly convicted of rape therefore resulting in his imprisonment which creates a conflict as Tish (Kiki Layne) must deal with the impending birth of her child without the support of her husband.
Right from the beginning the movie establishes that the love between these two is genuine, passionate, and has been years in the making as they have known each other and have been close friends since they were children. The actors do a great job at showing their affection through simple gestures such as eye contact, acts of service, and most importantly sacrifice.
As I said before, the main issue in the movie is the fact that Fonny is in jail while Tish is pregnant, which is so rooted in the #BlackLove trend. When I think of Black Love I think of how the love between two African-Americans (regardless of sexual orientation and gender) is so strong that it transcends all obstacles in life because they know that they truly belong together. It is rooted in creating a legacy of children born from that love and endures no matter how dire the situation may be. James and and Layne completely nail that with their characters. Day in and day out Tish visits Fonny daily to show her support for him and even goes as far as to having her mother travel to Puerto Rico to talk with the victim to help prove him innocent. All the while she is suffering from contractions, morning sickness, and a plethora of other pregnancy hardships.
Fonny is definitely sticking through in his part as well. He could easily forget about Tish and refuse to even see her when she comes to visit him. However, every day she visits her reciprocates her dedication with emotional support, vocalizing to her that he is not giving up on their marriage and maintaining faith and a positive attitude about the current situation at hand for the both of them. Support from the both of them is not easy to maintain and reciprocate, but it is truly captivating to see how they both respond to the obvious friction in their young marriage.
One of the most respectable and endearing parts of the movie is the ending *spoiler* when the film takes a time jump to a couple of years in the future when their son is about 3 years old and Tish is making a visit to Fonny with their son which looks as if the visits are still consistent and meaningful. What’s also important to note is that the ending is REALISTIC. Many romance movies that have a conflict are often resolved in an impractical fashion that absolutely makes no sense except for the movie to have a “happy ending”, however, this movie’s ending makes complete sense and is what happens in real life most of the time. People who are wrongfully convicted of a crime do not always get pardoned and may even have to take a plea deal in order to get released later in the future, which is what Fonny does.
But, what makes #BlackLove so special is that even when someone who is suffering from a wrong (and racially charge) conviction, the love never fades, and in fact, the love grows even stronger despite the problems. If you haven’t seen this film yet please do, it’s almost a crime (no pun intended) that this is only Barry Jenkins’ second movie he directed and I am so excited for what else he does in the future.