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If Beale Street Could Talk: everything you need to know about Barry Jenkins’ latest Oscar-buzzed movie


Coming next February is one of the most anticipated movies of 2019, If Beale Street Could Talk. It's director Barry Jenkins’ long-awaited follow-up to his Oscar-winning Moonlight, and is adapted from the James Baldwin novel of the same name.

Here are some must-know facts about the new movie ahead of its release on 8th February.

It’s the new film from the Oscar-nominated writer-director of Moonlight

When Moonlight took the Best Picture Oscar from La La Land in 2017, it was a whopping great vote of confidence from Hollywood in 39-year-old writer-director Barry Jenkins. Moonlight, the story a young gay black man as he progresses from childhood to adulthood, was Jenkins’ second feature, after his low-budget debut, Medicine for Melancholy in 2008.

So there’s a great deal of excitement behind If Beale Street Could Talk, which tells the story a young African-American woman who, after her husband is wrongly charged with rape, seeks to clear his name before the birth of their child.

It’s adapted from a literary classic

The movie is adapted from a 1974 novel by the great James Baldwin, a celebrated black author who was, two years ago, the subject of the documentary feature I Am Not Your Negro.

The New York Times called it "a moving, painful story" but "ultimately optimistic. It stresses the communal bond between members of an oppressed minority, especially between members of a family, [offering] a quite moving and very traditional celebration of love." 

"There haven't been enough of these and they were few and far between," Jenkins told The Los Angeles Times on the subject of films based on black literature. "I don't want to sound as though every novel by a black author should be translated to the screen, but I’m damn sure many more of them should be."

It promises to be hard-hitting

While Moonlight didn’t exactly have many LOLs in it, it was by no means a bleak, depressing watch as it radiated so much heart and warmth. Just think of the diner scene between the older Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) and his soulmate Kevin (Andre Holland). We can palpably feel the weight of history between the characters as they meet up again as adults, their chemistry practically sparking off the screen.

And while Beale Street, like Moonlight, tackles issues of racial identity (as well as sexual assault), critics have lauded the tender chemistry between stars Stephan James and KiKi Layne, not to mention the presence of Regina King (said to be an Oscar contender for Best Supporting Actress) as the latter’s on-screen mother.

It’s already critically acclaimed

Moonlight boasts an incredible 98% on reviews website Rotten Tomatoes, and it looks like If Beale Street Could Talk is well on the way to achieving a similarly stellar rating. In fact, a few reviews have already been written and they’re all glowing.

The Guardian says, "The film is achingly beautiful, each frame artfully composed and each song choice thoughtfully matched." The Mirror writes that "Jenkins is wise to avoid obvious choices in the storyline, as there is no courtroom focus... Instead the director focuses on the budding romance of two people from the same world, who know each other inside and out."

If Beale Street Could Talk is out in Cineworld on 8th February, so tweet us @Cineworld if you think it’ll sweep next year’s Oscars.