How many ways are woke critics sprinkling raindrops of love upon Barry Jenkins‘ If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna, 11.30)? Answer: They’re workin’ it hard.
In Toronto I wrote that Beale Street is “a decent film in a sluggish, warm-hearted, ‘I love you baby’ sort of way. The two leads, Stephan James and Kiki Layne, are highly appealing in all respects, not the least being that they’re physically beautiful. And I agree that Regina King (who plays Layne’s mom) might land a Best Supporting Actress nomination, but no win.
“Beale Street is all about mood and faith and dreamy lovers giving each eye baths. It has no narrative tension or snap, no second act pivot or third-act payoff or anything in the least bit peppy or spunky, much less reach-for-the-skies. It’s languid and sluggish and awash in feeling that isn’t pointed at anything but itself, which is to say Jenkins’ scrupulous loyalty to James Baldwin‘s 1974 novel.
“Not a disaster but definitely minor. James Laxton‘s cinematography and Nicholas Britell‘s musical score are probably the two best elements.”
A tweet this morning from Variety‘s Guy Lodge: “Every petal of memory here is perfectly placed, nested just so, each unfurling the other like the network of a rose. Swoonsome romanticism also teems with hot sociopolitical anger; both literal and sensually inventive in its allegiance to Baldwin.”
Less-than-sincere HE response: “I agree, and it’s so deeply satisfying, I might add, when things don’t break Fonny’s way in terms of his Puerto Rican accuser and he accepts a deal to do several more years in the slam for a crime he didn’t commit. But that’s okay because Tish and the family love him so much. Life is unfair, life is cruel but love endures. Or something like that. And when all else fails, there’s that gentle, amber-lit Wong Kar Wai vibe to soothe everyone’s spirits.”