If Beale Street Could Talk (film)
|If Beale Street Could Talk|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Barry Jenkins|
|Screenplay by||Barry Jenkins|
|Based on||If Beale Street Could Talk|
by James Baldwin
|Music by||Nicholas Britell|
|Distributed by||Annapurna Pictures|
|Box office||$8.3 million|
If Beale Street Could Talk is a 2018 American romantic drama film directed and written by Barry Jenkins, based on James Baldwin's novel of the same name. It stars KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Colman Domingo, Teyonah Parris, Michael Beach, Dave Franco, Diego Luna, Pedro Pascal, Ed Skrein, Brian Tyree Henry and Regina King. It follows a young African-American woman who, with her family's support, seeks to clear the name of her wrongly charged lover and prove his innocence before the birth of their child.
If Beale Street Could Talk had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2018, and was released in the United States on December 14, 2018 by Annapurna Pictures. It received acclaim from critics, who lauded the acting (particularly King), Jenkins' screenplay and direction, the cinematography and musical score, and was chosen by both the National Board of Review and American Film Institute as one of the Top 10 Films of 2018. The film received numerous accolades and nominations, including winning Best Supporting Actress for King at the 76th Golden Globe Awards, while also being nominated for Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Screenplay.
While the film is presented in a non-linear structure, this plot summary is written in a linear fashion.
Clementine "Tish" Rivers and Alonzo "Fonny" Hunt have been friends their whole lives, and begin a romantic relationship when they are older. They struggle to find a place to live as most landlords refuse to rent apartments to black people. They eventually find a place in a warehouse that is in the process of being converted to an apartment building. Levy, the Jewish landlord, agrees to rent it to them at a reasonable rate due to the fact that he enjoys seeing couples in love, regardless of their race.
One night, when Tish is shopping at a mostly white grocery store, she is harassed by a man. When he begins to assault her, Fonny physically throws the man out of the store. A nearby policeman, Officer Bell, witnesses the incident and attempts to arrest Fonny, but reluctantly lets him go when the lady who runs for the grocery store vouches for them.
Fonny is later arrested for raping a woman. Despite the fact that it would have been virtually impossible for Fonny to travel from the scene of the crime to the apartment where he was arrested in the short amount in time in between the rape and the arrest, the case against Fonny is considered strong due to Officer Bell's testimony to seeing Fonny fleeing the scene and Victoria Rogers, the victim, disappearing after identifying Fonny as her rapist. Tish, as well as Fonny's friend, Daniel, were with him at the time of the rape, but their testimony isn't considered reliable due to Tish's romantic relationship with Fonny, and Daniel's previous conviction for grand theft auto (despite his claim to not even know how to drive a car).
Tish visits Fonny in jail as he awaits trial, and reveals to him that she is pregnant with his baby. Fonny is excited to be a father, but is saddened by the fact that his child might be born with him still behind bars. Later, Tish later tells her parents, Sharon and Joseph, and sister, Ernestine about her pregnancy. Though worried for her, Tish's family are supportive of her. They decide to invite Fonny's family over to share the news of the pregnancy. Frank, Fonny's father, is excited about the pregnancy. However, Fonny's highly religious mother declares the child to be a sin due to being conceived out of wedlock and goes into a rant about how Tish is damned, which is ended when Frank hits her. As Mrs. Hunt begins to leave with her daughters in disgust, Sharon reminds her that she has just condemned her own grandchild, leaving her emotionally distraught as she is escorted away by her daughters. In a bar, Frank discusses how he is worried about paying for a child, but Joseph convinces him that they'll be able to provide for their grandchild the same way they provided for their children.
After tracking Victoria to her native Puerto Rico, Sharon travels there to confront her. Sharon attempts to convince Victoria that she made a mistake when she identified Fonny as her rapist, but she refuses. When Sharon gently touches her, Victoria begins to scream, attracting the attention of her neighbors, forcing Sharon to leave. Fed up with his trial constantly being postponed, Fonny eventually accepts a plea deal. Years later, Tish visits Fonny in jail with their son, Alonzo Jr, as they all look forward to Fonny's eventual release.
- KiKi Layne as Clementine "Tish" Rivers, Ernestine's sister and Sharon and Joseph's daughter
- Milanni Mines as Young Tish
- Stephan James as Alonzo "Fonny" Hunt, Mrs. Hunt and Frank's son and one of Pedrocito and Daniel's friends
- Ethan Barrett as Young Fonny
- Regina King as Sharon Rivers, Ernestine and Tish's mother and Joseph's wife
- Teyonah Parris as Ernestine Rivers, Tish's sister and Sharon and Joseph's daughter
- Colman Domingo as Joseph Rivers, Ernestine and Tish's father and Sharon's husband
- Brian Tyree Henry as Daniel Carty, one of Pedrocito and Fonny's friend and recent parolee
- Ed Skrein as Officer Bell
- Emily Rios as Victoria Rogers
- Michael Beach as Frank Hunt, Fonny's father and Mrs. Hunt's husband
- Aunjanue Ellis as Mrs. Hunt, Fonny's mother and Frank's wife
- Ebony Obsidian as Adrienne Hunt
- Dominique Thorne as Sheila Hunt
- Finn Wittrock as Hayward
- Diego Luna as Pedrocito, a waiter and one of Fonny's friends
- Pedro Pascal as Pietro Alvarez
- Dave Franco as Levy, a landlord
On July 10, 2017, it was announced that Barry Jenkins would direct an adaptation of the James Baldwin novel If Beale Street Could Talk. Jenkins wrote the screenplay during the summer of 2013, also writing Moonlight during that same time.
On October 18, 2017, it was reported that If Beale Street Could Talk had begun filming in New York City. That same month, Regina King, Colman Domingo, Brian Tyree Henry, Dave Franco, and Ed Skrein joined the cast of the film. Michael Beach, Finn Wittrock, Aunjanue Ellis, and Diego Luna joined in November. In December 2017, Pedro Pascal and Emily Rios joined the cast. In March 2018 Nicholas Britell was announced as composer of the film's score.
If Beale Street Could Talk began a limited release in the United States on December 14, 2018, with an expanded release on December 25. It had previously been scheduled to be released on November 30, 2018.
The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2018. It also screened at the New York Film Festival on October 11, 2018, the New Orleans Film Festival on October 21, 2018, and the St. Louis International Film Festival on November 10, 2018.
In its opening weekend, the film made $219,174 from four theaters, a per-venue average of $54,794, one of the best of 2018. In its second weekend, the film earned $114,902 and in its third made $759,578 from 65 theaters. In its fourth weekend the film expanded to 335 theaters, earning $1.9 million. The next weekend, following its Golden Globe win, the film expanded to 1,018 theaters and made $2.3 million.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 95% based on 231 reviews, with an average rating of 8.7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "If Beale Street Could Talk honors its source material with a beautifully filmed adaptation that finds director Barry Jenkins further strengthening his visual and narrative craft." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 87 out of 100, based on 49 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by PostTrak gave the film an 82% overall positive score and a 65% "definite recommend".
Eric Kohn of IndieWire gave the film a "A–",saying: "Jenkins' follow-up to Moonlight also maintains his own expressionistic aesthetic, with its lush colors and entrancing faces that speak volumes in few words, resulting in a fascinating hybrid experience — a seminal voice of the past merging with one of the present in a mesmerizing burst of creative passion." Siddhant Adlakha of /Film said the film felt "electric and alive" and wrote, "The worlds these characters create — whether in the form of individual, soul-piercing stares, or moments of burning passion filmed in profile — carry with them the weight of the very history of which Tish constantly speaks." Matt Bobkin of Exclaim! gave the film 8/10, writing, "as devastating as the film's subject matter is, there's a powerful undercurrent of hope, tenderly conveyed in all aspects of the film." 
At the 76th Golden Globe Awards, the film was nominated for three awards; Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Supporting Actress for King, and Best Screenplay, with King winning. At the 24th Critics' Choice Awards, the film received five nominations, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress for King, and Best Adapted Screenplay. In addition, both the National Board of Review and American Film Institute included it in their Top 10 Films of 2018.
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