If Beale Street Could Talk
After winning the Academy Award for Best Film with Moonlight, the next film from Barry Jenkins is If Beale Street Could Talk.
Jenkins has adapted the screenplay from the novel by James Baldwin.
Written in 1974, Baldwin’s novel gives us the story of a young couple living in Harlem in the early 70s.
Fonny and Tish are in love, and this protects them from their respective families and the outside world until Fonny is falsely accused of rape. After his imprisonment, Tish finds out she is pregnant and she, her family, and her lawyer race against the clock to find evidence that frees Fonny before the baby is born.
It’s a story about love, it’s a story about sacrifice, and it’s a story about family.
“Every poet is an optimist… said Baldwin, reflecting on the novel in an interview with The Guardian. “But on the way to that optimism you have to reach a certain level of despair to deal with your life at all.”
Jenkins has talked about has passion to bring Baldwin’s novel to the screen. “I set off in the summer of 2013 to Europe to write an adaptation of If Beale Street Could Talk in the hope that one day I would have the privilege and permission from the Baldwin Estate to make it into a feature film…” explained Jenkins. “Every decision I made to bring this project into the world had its roots in a fidelity to the source material, a fidelity to Baldwin’s vision.”
Baldwin wrote several novels but this is the first to be adapted for the screen. “Being the first person entrusted to bring any of Baldwin’s novels to the screen in his native tongue, it’s been a goal of mine to draw these characters as close to Baldwin’s imagining as possible…” explained Jenkins. “Between the two relationships at the core of the film - Tish and Fonny, Sharon and Joseph - there’s this lovely rhyme of relationships functioning as the buffer that, for black folks, makes the world worth enduring, that makes the broken promise of the American dream worth striving for.”
Jenkins highlights the line - ’Love brought you here’ - as his favourite line from the novel. Describing that spirit that brought his creative team together for the film. “Transmuting these ideas - thematic, intellectual, emotional ideas - through performers and with the collaborators behind the camera I’ve long called family, I could think of no better way to honour my favourite author, James Baldwin.”
- KiKi Layne
- Stephan James
- Teyonah Parris
- Regina King
- Colman Domingo
- Brian Tyree Henry
- Ed Skrein
- Emily Rios
- Michael Beach
- Aunjanue Ellis
- Finn Wittrock
- Diego Luna
- Pedro Pascal
- Dave Franco
Having premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2018, it is scheduled for general release in the UK in January 2019.