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If Beale Street Could Talk

The story is based on the book by James Baldwin of the same name, and concerns two young people, Tish (played by KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James), an aspiring artist. Both grew up together and are in love. Just as they were ready to start their lives together, Fonny is arrested and sent to jail for the rape of a woman on the other side of town. This is a wonderful film and enhances Barry Jenkin’s (director of last year’s Best Picture Oscar winner Moonlight) reputation as a beautiful storyteller and someone who extracts great performances from his actors. The performances were wonderful; Layne, her first role, is great, and Regina King gives an especially powerful performance as Tish’s mother. Diego Luna and James Franco, both of whom I really like, had acting bits that seemed a bit distracting to me. Big thumbs up from me for a great love story and a testament to the power of family. I am so glad that there is interest in James Baldwin, and I hope that we continue to see adaptations of some of his other work. Jenkins did a very fine job of capturing the essence of Baldwin’s critique of race and racism in society.

About Gary Burkholder

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