If Beale Street Could Talk – Film Review

Set in the 1970’s when racism was still at its peak,  Clementine “Tish” Rivers (Kiki Layne) and Alonzo  “Fonny” Hunt (Stephan James) are childhood friends who eventually become lovers when they become of age. Taking the next step in their relationship with a now pregnant Clementine, they decide to purchase their very first home together, however due to the elements of racism; the couple are unable to find a home due to the colour of their skin. Eventually Levy (Dave Franco), a Jewish landlord who adores the sight of true love decides to give them a space to start their new life.

Just when things are starting to look up for the young couple, Fonny is falsely accused of raping a woman and is placed in jail. Awaiting trial Clementine embarks on a journey with her family to prove her husband’s innocence.

I am going to start this review off by saying that this is such a powerful, emotional and moving piece of work. The many elements this movie holds just gives the cinematic experience an even deeper meaning. The struggle, the hardships, the culture of African-American citizens living in a white dominant society just bleeds vibrantly and is absorbed so well. But it’s the great injustice of the American justice system that is main highlight of this film, the unfair reality (back then) that if a black man committed a crime it would give the authority an excuse to give them a beat down, as well as the cruel ultimatum that if he went to jail, he would stay there without the hope of getting out. 

The chemistry between the characters, even the minor characters complimented the story brilliantly and helped the film progression flow fluently and efficiently. The dynamics and drama in each scene really took me on an journey where I felt fully invested in the storyline and believed I was feeling the same emotions as the characters.

The only time I felt lost was regarding the non-linear narrative which had the film provide many flashbacks. There was a lot of cutting back and forth from past to present to a point where I wasn’t sure which period of time we were in story wise, but it didn’t take long to figure out and follow the story once I had a better understand of what was going on.

If Beale Street could Talk was an amazing experience and it has been a long time since we’ve seen a decent movie that portrayed a powerful insight to the racial issues of the past. It was a fulfilling title to resurrect such an interesting and emotional topic, and is definitely a masterpiece that deserves your time.

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