Combustible Celluloid
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With: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Colman Domingo, Teyonah Parris, Michael Beach, Dave Franco, Diego Luna, Pedro Pascal, Emily Rios, Ed Skrein, Finn Wittrock, Brian Tyree Henry, Regina King
Written by: Barry Jenkins, based on a novel by James Baldwin
Directed by: Barry Jenkins
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content
Running Time: 117
Date: 12/13/2018

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Beale' of the Century

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Barry Jenkins follows up his glorious Moonlight with this drama, and while it doesn't quite match up -- not much could -- it's still an elegant, meticulous film, heartbreakingly alive, and flowing with poetry. Based on James Baldwin's 1974 novel of the same name, If Beale Street Could Talk is about a young woman, Tish (KiKi Layne), who becomes engaged to her childhood friend Fonny (Stephan James) and becomes pregnant, but then Fonny is arrested and jailed for a crime he did not commit. The movie is filled with virtuoso sequences, handsome camera moves and disquieting use of sound, and it contains at least one truly great performance, by Regina King as Tish's mother. It feels sometimes chilly and brainy, and a second viewing may not be an inviting prospect, but it's a highly accomplished piece of filmmaking that may yet stand the test of time.

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