If Beale Street Could Talk

Director Barry Jenkins’ ambitious follow-up to the Oscar-winning Moonlight adapts James Baldwin’s poignant novel about a woman fighting to free her falsely accused husband from prison before the birth of their child. 'If Beale Street Could Talk' is nominated for three Oscars: Best Female Supporting Actress (Regina King), Best Music and Best Edited Scenario.

Time & Tickets

In his third feature, Jenkins draws deep from the well of James Baldwin, whose profound insight into African Americans’ unique place in American society serves as inspiration for this gorgeous tone poem on love and justice. Tish is only 19 but she’s been forced to grow up fast. She’s pregnant by Fonny, the man she loves. But Fonny is going to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. As the film begins, Tish must break the news to her family, and his. Tish’s mother, played with heart-breaking depth by Regina King, soon must decide how far she will go to secure her daughter’s future. As Fonny, Stephan James gives a career-best performance of both grit and grace as a young man deeply in love but furious at what has befallen him.

Jenkins reveals the layers of conflicting motivations in a filmmaking style that approaches music — dipping into Baldwin’s elevated language and following his characters with unabashed devotion, fully capturing the texture of New York in the 1970s.

Barry Jenkins, USA, 2018, 120 min. English spoken, Dutch subtitles. With KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Colman Domingo, Teyonah Parris.

James Baldwin was a big music lover. Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles were the apples of his eye, Bessie Smith and Fats Waller taught him to embrace his identity and in ‘Sonny’s Blues, a 1957 Baldwin story, the jazz style bebop played a prominent role. Barry Jenkins and his composer Nicolas Britell ingeniously translated this obsession to the score of IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK. Jenkins said the following in an Oscars discussion: “James Baldwin was a jazz man, his father was a jazz man. And I felt the language that blends both romance and despair, to me is the language of jazz.” As a result Britell used jazz instruments and harmonies in his classical compositions. The result is – comparable to MOONLIGHT - extremely conveying, an elegant mix of eloquent precision and pure emotion. Baldwin could be proud.

Curious about the Oscars discussion with Jenkins and the rest of his crew? Here you go!