If Beale Street Could Talk

Rated 5.0

Director Barry Jenkins follows up his Oscar winning Moonlight with a beautiful, heartbreakingly great movie. The film is full of moving performances from all, including Regina King as a steel nerved mother and Stephan James as a jailed man proclaiming his innocence. It’s a stirring family drama focused on a young black couple Alonzo—”Fonny”—and Tish (Stephan James and KiKi Layne) in the 1970s. Within the first few minutes of the film, we learn that Tish is pregnant, and Alonzo is incarcerated. He’s jailed for a sexual assault against a woman, something he vehemently denies. While he awaits trial, Tish remains loyal and must inform her family of her pregnancy. The extended scene when Tish tells her parents and, subsequently, Fonny’s family that she is pregnant, hits all kind of notes. It runs the virtual gamut of emotions, setting the pulse for the rest of the movie. It’s also where Regina King begins to shine as Sharon, Tish’s beautifully, unconditionally supportive mother. It’s the beginning of a performance that is gathering much deserved awards. King isn’t alone in the magic department. Colman Domingo is terrific as Tish’s good-natured dad, as is Teyonah Parris as Tish’s strong sister, Ernestine. The pregnancy revelation scene is capped with a sudden turn of emotions as Fonny’s family has a much different reaction, led by their religious mom, Mrs. Hunt (Aunjanue Ellis). Jenkins and company take us from a place that is very comfortable to extremely raw in a flash, and it feels genuine. In fact, Beale Street doesn’t