if beale street could talk: movie review

this novel is fresh in my mind because i read it this year; my first time reading a james baldwin novel.  within the first 5 minutes of the film, i was already in tears. i was so glad i picked up a couple of napkins laid out on a table in front of the state theater at lincoln square. the silence, the loving stares, the beautiful colors beckoned me to freeze each frame just to linger a little longer. i can’t wait to take screenshots of every frame in order to adorn my laptop. i came in with preconceived theories about the direction and how the storytelling would be approached. for some reason, i didn’t think the narration style would translate well from the novel to the screen. barry jenkins made the right choice.  the acting was superb. they didn’t have to say anything. they could have gazed into each other’s eyes for 2 hours and it would have been time well spent.

there is a sex scene. well, it’s more like a lovemaking scene and it was tastefully done. the man sitting next to me chuckled when he heard me whisper ‘yes yes yes yes’ and ‘my god’ at the visual of dark-skinned beautiful skin expressing love. thank you, barry jenkins. i didn’t know how much i needed to see that on screen. i’m almost certain i’ve never seen a lovemaking scene with black people quite as honest, intense and tender. the only one i can think of that may come close is the sex scene in ‘love & basketball’. i can’t put into words how affirming it is to see dark-skinned people loving on each other.

even given all this beauty, i still left the theater a little angry. i wasn’t angry because i didn’t enjoy my time with this film; i enjoyed every minute. i was angry because it’s a guarantee there are countless stories similar to fonny and tish’s experience. this is not fiction. i think of all the untold stories of dreams halted, love put on hold, creations unable to see the light of day, with an ugly stain on a love story. somewhere in our history, someone with man-made power used it to snuff the life out of what was perceived to be less than, not human. it broke my heart to see fonny’s beautiful existence handled with no respect, beat down by the “justice” system working in the way it was created to work. the narrator’s sweet voice interjected like the constant interference of those in power reminding us why this young couple could not love in the way they deserved to love, with no boundaries. i may have one critique, but it’s not even worth mentioning. it’s a 5-star film receiving 3 golden globes nomination before its release date. take your love to see it. i took myself and i will be taking myself again. 

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