Based on the 1974 James Baldwin novel and set in early ’70s Harlem, If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna, 11.30) is about how a young African-American couple deals with a false accusation in 1970s Harlem.
The main protagonists are Tish (Kiki Layne), a 19 year-old, and Fonny (Stephan James), a 22 year-old sculptor, and their extended family. Fonny is unjustly accused of raping a Puerto Rican woman, Victoria Rogers (Emily Rios), and is sent to prison. Soon after Tish discovers she’s pregnant. She, her family and her lawyer struggle to find evidence that will free Fonny before the baby is born.
Pic was directed and adapted by Barry Jenkins (Moonlight). The costars includes Regina King (as Tish’s mom) Colman Domingo, Dave Franco, Ed Skrein, Finn Wittrock, Diego Luna, Pedro Pascal and Emily Rios. No Venice or Telluride screenings; Toronto only.
A guy who’s heard from a guy who saw Beale Street says it’s “art-housey…very theatrical and in line with Fences. Feels mostly like Barry adapting a book that was very personal to him. Even smaller than Moonlight and told in overlapping voiceovers, saturated cinematography and lots of montage. Stephan James is said to be the best in show and very charming. The fact that this film deals with sexual assault in an inconclusive manner may turn out to be an issue in this, the #MeToo era.”
Here’s a Blackfilm report from Wilson Morales.