Critiquing Film, Television, and More

If Beale Street Could Talk: A Solid Second Outing From Acclaimed Director Barry Jenkins

Two years ago, an unannounced incident had transpired upon myself and among many other clueless folks at my local, Angelika Theater, spotlighting with our windup of having little to no knowledge about what we—the sanctified—were in for. This circumstance is to be referred to as our observation of the film by first-time director, Barry Jenkins, known as, Moonlight, which I believe exuberantly to be one of the few films baking in existence that is excluded of flaws.

If Beale Street Could Talk is a secondary baby that neither thwarts nor soars. It’s an ample telling of a boy and a girl in love interned under a hapless state of affairs that is conceivably weighty, yet, unaccustomedly charming. But yes, as you may imagine my lads, it is not even adjacent to as perfect of a masterpiece as Moonlight, which is, ethically, fine by my watch. 

My complications with the film principally have to do with how the story’s incorporations of events and characters were handled. For example, Mrs. Hunt (Alonzo’s Mother) and her daughters (who thankfully only appear in one scene in this entire film) are discharged in such a cartoonish vogue it nearly felt like I was witnessing sequences of a lost, hackneyed Disney princess tale. 

A couple times, also, there will be awfully exaggerated moments of tension—which if you could reckon, made the moments of anxiety seem more fairy-tale and less sincere. One scene in particular that distinctly stood out, was when a racist police officer attempted to arrest an innocent man at a marketplace. Much of this sequence features minimal subtleties of verisimilitude within its atmosphere and dialogue. It was not far from casting back a sort of “artificial” sense of craftsmanship.

Conclusively, there is also nothing particularly new or fresh about the film’s exploration of its subject matter. It is done certainly with dazzling aptitude, but it quirks nothing I hadn’t seen before of other films of its matter.

What made Moonlight amplify like no other film of our generation was it’s realistic ability to apprise a sizable story without feeling numb to the truth. Beale Street is more elementary, more straight-forward, and alas, less convincing.

HOWEVER, that being said, it’s only in these split seconds that make Beale Street sometimes seem drowsy. But, when it shines, it shines. Heavenly. 

Some of my favorite scenes that really solidified Beale Street for me, consist of an honest visionary of a young lady losing her chastity to a man she earnestly loves, Barry’s friend spewing a mortifying narrative of what life in prison was like for the two years he faced it, and a simplistically crafted scene of Barry constructing one of his most beloved artistic opuses. Even when these golden flashes aren’t occurring, we are at least treated with kindness to the sumptuous cinematography of clean-cut shades of yellow, red, and green. 

All in all, the cons, the obstacles, and the whatevers slotted aside, it’s troublesome for me to dislike If Beale Street Could Talk, in fact, I think I do dearly fancy it. Barry Jenkins has plenty of time to shoot another cream of the crop, and if we continuously receive tiny gems like this for now, I won’t certainly be somber. This is a solid second-outing from a sophisticated director who still has our blessing to linger guidelessly when flexing his muscles. (Verdict: B)

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