Skip to main content

Movie Review: Barry Jenkins's If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash
From the moment the trailer was released, I have anxiously been awaiting If Beale Street Could Talk. Due to my new job and my relocation to Durham, NC, I have become aware of my ignorance about the lives of others who don't share my background of being a white middle-class female in America. While I have always enjoyed seeing a wide variety of films, my interest has grown in seeing movies featuring characters of color.

In 2017, Theon Hill, an assistant professor at Wheaton College spoke at the ECPA Art of Writing conference, quoted James Baldwin and spoke highly of his writing. In 2018, the keynote speaker at the Joint Librarians of Color Conference, Benjamin Alire Saenz, also speak of James Baldwin and the impact he had on his writing career. And not too soon after, my father asked me if I'd ever heard of James Baldwin due to a pupil of his researching some of the author's work.

I have not read the book the movie was based upon by James Baldwin but is highly regarded in the literary community. It's the story of Tish and Fonny, a couple in love, and also their families, and also their city, their community, and the plight of marginalized people everywhere. For although we spend time getting to know this one group of people, we know we are seeing just one story of many stories that we could learn if we would only stop, linger, and learn about the lives of others.

Tish and Fonny, friends since childhood, are anxious to start their live together, but all of that comes to a crashing halt when Fonny is falsely accused of rape by a Hispanic woman. We see events that happen before, during, and after these key events. We hear the conversations different key players hold in their living rooms, in their kitchens, and in local bars. We are invited into this very private story and feel the moments of joy, hopelessness, and sadness. This is a slow burning unfurling story of pain and tragedy. Yet, the love of the family stands true and firm.

It's also a beautiful picture to watch. The soundtrack, costumes, and set pieces are lovely. And I like the way the story unspooled while jumping through the past and present. It wasn't a chronological take and many moments are skipped. Each moment was carefully chosen. It was lyrical and brought out the mood of the scenes.

I left wondering about the many families that are separated by incarceration and the kids that grow up with daddy in prison. I also connected to my earlier experience in 2018 of seeing The Hate U Give and the families in that story. For me, this was a film of contemplation and a continuation of dialogue that has been going on in my head for awhile. I am continuing to think and grow in this area as I understand the many ways our country isn't a safe place for everyone. All people are made in the image of God. I want to honor God in the way I treat others, especially people who have been oppressed or treated unfairly. This is the heart of God.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ali Abassi's Border (2018): A Dark Swedish Fairy Tale

Have you ever felt like you are alone? Like you exist and move around in a community of people that you are nothing like?

Imagine how Tina feels. She works as a highly competent border guard for the sole reason that her sense of smell is extrasensory. She can smell fear, shame, and any negative emotion on people as they cross through her security area, and she is never wrong about her suspicions. Her work career, however, might be the only thing she has going for her.

She lives on the outskirts of town with a boyfriend that owns a pack of dogs, and from all counts, they live together in a loveless domestic arrangement that is hard to imagine either of them conceiving. Things become a little clearer later as we learn that Tina owns the home and the boyfriend is enjoying the luxury of living rent free. Tina appears to have no family except for the man she calls father, who claims to have adopted her.

Tina is unattractive by human standards and is most often seen staring attentively and …

Alfonso Cuarón's Roma (2018) A Window into the Life of a Working Class Woman

For every person who keeps their hands clean and smooth from doing heavy duty manual labor, there are people who work thanklessly in the background, making life comfortable for those few. This is the subject of Roma, a film set in Mexico City with original screenplay written in Spanish. Roma takes one of those hardworking people and brings her front and center.

Cleo is the housekeeper of a middle-class family in the 1970s. She cleans the house, cleans the dog poo off the house entrance, brings the family tea, and serves them at mealtime. Cleo comes across as diligent, hardworking, sweet, shy, non-demanding, and loving. The children seem to adore her. She is a constant in their lives, and they treat her as one would expect a person who demands or expects nothing in return. At times, she’s like wallpaper. Other times, they are affectionate with her and desire her attention.

There isn’t much plot to this movie. Cleo does have some romantic adventures and deals with an unexpected pregn…

Yes, You Can: Take a Vacation by Yourself

This is part of my Solo Living: Yes You Can series. Click here to find the intro and all the topics. Solo vacationing can be one of the most freeing and relaxing ways to travel. I'm sure you can think of at least one time when you took a trip only to have your getaway ruined by your companion.

I love a good vacation. There's nothing better than taking a few days off to decompress and get away from the stress of life. In my family, even when we didn't have a lot of money, it was considered important to have these little weekends. Sometimes we stayed with a family member. Sometimes, we would drive an hour away to the closest big city and spend a night in the Holiday Inn Holidome (remember those?). We thought that was big stuff. There was an indoor pool and a video game arcade. Sometimes Mom and Dad would go out for dinner, and we three girls would get to order pizza and watch TV ALONE.

It wasn't always easy sharing a hotel room with 5 people, 4 of them being female. We …