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If Beale Street could talk

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK is a 2018 American romantic drama film directed and written by Barry Jenkins, based on James Baldwin's novel of the same name.


The first thing you notice about IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK by Barry Jenkins (MOONLIGHT), and the film's most memorable aspect, are the colors. They aren‘t just warm and saturated, they are virtually silky, tender. They are the colors Tish (Kiki Layne), who is telling the story, thinks in when she thinks of Fonny (Stephen James), whose name is actually Alonzo but nobody calls him that, and her feelings for him.

Fonny is just 22 and Tish is 19 when she discovers that she‘s pregnant. She tells him the good news through the glass in the visitation room in a prison. Fonny has been locked up for a crime he did not commit. “Don‘t worry, we will get you out of here before the birth,“ says Tish. “Are you sure?“ asks Fonny. “Of course I‘m sure,“ Tish replies. The film goes back in time from this focal point where young love and an unwavering hope for the future meet, back to when childhood friends Fonny and Tish became a couple, and to the future, when they organise a lawyer and try to invalidate the “evidence“, The entire family is a part of it. Tish‘s mother even undertakes tracking down the only witness. But it soon becomes clear that a fair trial is something that‘s reserved for whites and the immense injustice which Fonny experiences is routine for Black families.

Adapted from the eponymous novel by James Baldwin, Jenkins tells a story of systematic discrimination and shows a racist justice system that disinterestedly ruined the lives of thousands of African-American families (and still continues to do so). It‘s a story that could‘ve easily been filled with bitterness and despair, but is outshone by the tenderness and connectedness not only felt for each other by Fonny and Tish.

Hendrike Bake

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: If Beale Street Could Talk
USA 2018, 119 min
Language: English
Genre: Drama, Crime Drama
Director: Barry Jenkins
Author: Barry Jenkins
DOP: James Laxton
Montage: Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders
Music: Nicholas Britell
Distributor: DCM
Cast: Kiki Layne, Stephan James, Pedro Pascal, Ed Skrein, Dave Franco
Release: 07.03.2019




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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