Barry Jenkins and the cast of If Beale Street Could Talk open up about their timeless and harrowing love story
Oscar winner Barry Jenkins tackles James Baldwin in his follow-up to Moonlight, and it's another slow-burning masterpiece.
Stephan James, KiKi Layne, Regina King, Colman Domingo
December 25th, 2018
As he did with Moonlight, Jenkins takes his time with Beale Street, allowing the story of Fonny (Stephan James) and Tish (KiKi Layne) to unroll slowly, as their childhood friendship grows into a love affair that proves unbreakable even as Fonny is accused of a rape he didn't commit and is sent to jail leaving Tish, pregnant with his child, to fight for his release. Regina King plays Tish’s mom, Colman Domingo is her dad and Michael Beach is Fonny’s father, all of whom try to navigate the legal system and save their kids in their own ways.
As for the title of the film, and Baldwin’s book, don’t look for a direct connection to this Harlem story. The real Beale Street isn’t even located in New York; it’s in Memphis, Tennessee. In titling his book, Baldwin was referencing composer W.C. Handy’s 1916 song “Beale Street Blues,” about the birthplace of that musical genre.
For Stephan James, the title of the film is about giving a voice to stories that often go untold.
“It’s like if these walls could talk, if we could say all the things or show all the things that we never get to say or people never get to see what would that look like? What would that sound like? What would that feel like,” he asks. “And I think that Barry Jenkins was the perfect sort of a visionary to bring the words of James Baldwin to life in that way.”
We caught up with the cast and Barry Jenkins when they premiered the film at the Toronto International Film Festival. Watch the interviews and see If Beale Street Could Talk in Cineplex theatres on December 25th.
If Beale Street Could Talk is a film for romantics.
A harrowing love story based on the novel by James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk is a film for romantics in every sense of the word. With a film-making style that is poetic and slow-moving, someone with a true appreciation for film as an art will revel in this outstanding new feature from Barry Jenkins.