If Beale Street Could Talk - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

If Beale Street Could Talk Reviews

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March 22, 2019
Watching If Beale Street Could Talk felt like a reading experience to me and never at all did I feel as if I were watching a feature film. It's very badly adapted and horribly paced that it becomes excruciatingly slow to follow. Yes, the performances are very good, the film's quite tender in its tone and I loved that first act as it was dramatic and quite powerful, but everything that came afterwards was dull, lifeless and lacking any sort of momentum.
March 22, 2019
Heavy handed. Melodramatic. Overacted. SOOO many long close ups.
March 21, 2019
A fine drama with a message that the writer wanted us to think about long after the movie is over. But more than often the pace is too slow, making it hard for the audience to keep patience.
½ March 20, 2019
Mediocre. The story is sad and shows a terrible consequence of racism, but there's nothing special about it.
The acting is good but not Oscar-worthy.
The love between Tish and Fonny is portraied in a very naive way, Actually Tish and Fonny are saints, their characters are perfect. The script is a bit heavy-handed,. some scenes are cringeworthy.
½ March 20, 2019
If you wish to see outstanding and believable acting, a powerful, heartbreaking love story, a strong emphasis of racial injustice in the early 70's, and creatively arranged original music, this is the film to see. The only suggestion is to shorten a few scenes.
March 15, 2019
Excruciatingly boring.
March 12, 2019
'If Beale Street Could Talk' is a heartbreaking drama which works due to its perfect amalgamation of polished direction, sincere writing, arresting photography, mesmerizing score & committed performances.
½ March 11, 2019
If there is something that needs to be praised about this movie is the amazing, moving and beautiful soundtrack, which really carries the movie alongside great chemistry from the leads and a strong performance from Regina King, who -in my opinion- should have had more time on screen. Yet, this that should have been a great/passionate love story feels like it came up short. All the elements are there: grounded characters, great plot and pretty good performances, but it all feels as if it never was fully developed. Having said that, If Beale Street could talk is still a beautiful and tender love story.
March 11, 2019
The acting was superb, cinematography was fantastic and overall a very interesting and artsy film. But it was very, very slow, and at times cut so fast between past and present flashbacks that it became disjointed and hard to follow at times. It didn't have a super engaging story, and seemed to focus more on the cinematography and score rather than the story structure.
March 10, 2019
Whilst I found many of the character's to be likeable and well fleshed out, I felt the film fell into the problem of oversimplifying the politics of it all and telling a story we've all seen many times before; which is white people are evil and incompetent. There is literally a line in the film where one of the characters effectively compares white people to the devil.

In no way am I saying that these sort of lines were unjustified when in context with the character's emotions and the film itself, but the lack of white characters who treat the characters with respect or are in anyway competent kind of makes me feel like the film was more telling the audience what to think rather than allowing them to make their mind up.

Whilst this film does well making its characters likeable and fleshed out, the story feels a bit too simple and generic for me to even really suggest watching it, let alone watching it again myself.
March 10, 2019
Absolutely beautiful
½ March 10, 2019
Boring with couple of good scenes.
March 9, 2019
Beautiful cinematography. It's a vibrant but somewhat depressing tale. They bring in the lyricism from the book which the actors handle well. Wish there was more story told but not sure if you find out everything in the book either.
½ March 9, 2019
Love Regina King...but movie left you not sure whether he was guilty.
March 7, 2019
The acting was so good that you felt like you were sharing the experiences of the key stars. A must for the younger generation to see as time blurs the memories.
March 5, 2019
Everyone remembers the Oscars controversy from 2 years, when Moonlight won Best Picture over La La Land at the Academy Awards. Now, director Barry Jenkins provides another Best Picture nominee with If Beale Street Could Talk, an adaptation of James Baldwin‚(TM)s novel of the same name, which tells the love story of Tish and Fonny in 1970‚(TM)s Harlem. Fighting through prejudice with the support of her family, this movie follows a young African American woman looking to clear the name of her wrongfully charged lover before the birth of their child.
Beale Street draws its strength from Jenkin‚(TM)s direction, who brings out the vibrant colors of the neighborhood where this love story takes place. Combining that with superb performances from our main leads and a number of up-and-coming actors, you feel connected with Tish‚(TM)s struggle to help save her love and you can relate to her family who will stop at nothing to protect their own. Regina King and KiKi Layne definitely are the highlights of these characters and were the most fleshed out. The score too is incredible, as the percussion instruments provide an uplifting beat to the time when this takes place. In the end, this is a very emotional movie and is more suited for fans who can watch intense family drama and have the stomach for racially biased issues.
½ March 5, 2019
Featuring some inspiring performances and set to a great score Beale Street has all the makings but in the end is a little too slow paced to keep my interest.
March 4, 2019
Beautifully shot, but emotionally languid

Based on James Baldwin's 1974 novel of the same name, If Beale Street Could Talk is aesthetically faultless, but, much like Moonlight, I felt the totality was considerably less than the sum of its exceptional parts. The biggest problem is the somnolent love story. Employing a Terrence Malick-esque esoteric voiceover, Jenkins lifts entire passages directly from Baldwin. However, what reads beautifully in the novel is out of place in the film, even in voiceover, and has the effect of rendering the two central characters completely unrealistic, with their love for one another idealised to such an extent as to become ridiculous.

In New York, 1974, Tish (Kiki Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James), are in love, and planning to get married. However, when Fonny is accused of rape, the victim mistakenly identifies him in a line-up, and he is charged and detained. Awaiting his trial, Tish visits him in jail, telling him she is pregnant, and promising she'll do whatever it takes to get him out before the birth. With this as the central framework, the story is told in a non-linear style, jumping back and forth from one time period to another.

Aesthetically, much like Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk looks amazing. From James Laxton's vibrant cinematography to Caroline Eselin's colour coordinated costume design (look at all the yellow in the opening scene), everything we see rings true, and much like Moonlight, the influence of Wong Kar-wai is obvious; seen in the non-linear narrative and relatively slight plot, the poetic tone, the centrality of music, and the film's tendency to use visuals rather than dialogue to convey thematic points (although Jenkins is nowhere near as formally experimental as Wong).

As in both Medicine for Melancholy and Moonlight, Jenkins occasionally has characters speak directly to camera. They're not breaking the fourth wall, however. Such scenes are dialogue scenes. It's a technique that was used most famously in The Silence of the Lambs, where each character looked into camera when speaking to Clarisse, whereas she always looked just slightly off-camera, setting up a fascinating visual contrast which encourages us to identify with her. Beale Street doesn't do anything as interesting or subtle with the technique, but Jenkins's tendency to use it during moments of heightened emotion does suture us into the milieu of the film.

The use of a non-linear narrative structure has an important thematic effect; we know from the second scene that Fonny is in jail, meaning that as we watch Tish and Fonny planning their future, there's a shadow over everything. For the most part, this contributes to the tone of the film. However, Jenkins overuses the technique. I understand why the film is told out of sequence, but not to the extent it is. Compare this with Sean Penn's The Pledge, a linear narrative where he accomplishes the same thing with one out-of-sequence scene at the start of the film. Beale Street, on the other hand, jumps all over the place, never settling into a rhythm, with the cumulative effect one of distraction rather than immersion.

Which brings me to the film's most significant problem - Fonny and Tish don't seem like real people, not in the way they gaze into one another's eyes as if they are seeing each other for the first time, not in the way they speak to one another as if every syllable is of earth-shattering portentousness. They rarely sound like real people; instead, they adopt the eloquence of James Baldwin. In lifting sections directly from the novel, Jenkins shows that what works on the page, doesn't necessarily work on the screen, and the reproduction of Baldwin's rich and lugubrious prose is simply unrealistic, with the delivery sounding stilted and awkward, and, most egregiously, far beyond the lexicon of the characters.

Another problem concerns the depiction of Officer Bell (Ed Skein), the racist cop who frames Fonny for rape. Played as a leering pantomime villain, with bad hair, bad teeth, and bad skin, he's obviously a metaphor for the ugliness of racism, but he's so completely over the top, it rips you right out of the film. He'd be more at home in a video game than a socially conscious exploration of the challenges facing African-Americans.

On the other hand, Regina King's portrayal of Tish's mother, Sharon, is absolutely exceptional.

Beale Street is an undeniably beautiful film that depicts the love between two astonishingly attractive people (it's worth noting that in the novel, Fonny's unattractiveness is emphasised). Jenkins turns Fonny and Tish into a Ken and Barbie-esque couple, undermining Baldwin's depiction of them as existing in a realistic milieu. Whereas Baldwin's Tish and Fonny are flawed, contradictory, and relatable, Jenkins's protagonists are too-perfect-to-be-real, with every agonisingly serious pronouncement they make pushing them further and further away from connecting with the audience on an emotional level.
March 3, 2019
Just another movie rated highly due to political correctness and UBER liberalization of Hollywood. Judged as just a MOVIE this movie SUCKS
½ March 3, 2019
Maybe it's slow but the word that comes to mind is smooth. And the soundtrack.
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