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February 18–23
City Cinema

14A, coarse language
Dir: Barry Jenkins, US, 119 min. KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King

If Beale Street Could Talk“There are more than a few love stories being told in Barry Jenkins’s exquisite If Beale Street Could Talk. First and foremost, there is the romance of 19-year-old Tish Rivers and 22-year-old Fonny Hunt, who grew up together in Harlem and have recently become engaged, sometime in the early 1970s. There is also the steadfast loyalty that binds family members together, even under the direst circumstances. Tish is loved most ferociously and unconditionally by her mother, Sharon (a magnificent Regina King), who intervenes forcefully on Fonny’s behalf when he is falsely accused of rape and thrown in jail, just a few months before Tish realizes she is pregnant with his child. But If Beale Street Could Talk could also be described as a love letter to the ravishing visual possibilities of gold autumn leaves and dusky-blue New York streets. It’s also about Jenkins’s love for his myriad influences, among them writer and civil-rights activist James Baldwin, who wrote the 1974 novel on which the film is based. The story moves around in time, freely interweaving social history and personal memory, with a slow-building emotional crescendo… There is a powerful tension at work in If Beale Street Could Talk between the harsh, unsentimental realism of its story and the optimistic glow in which Jenkins wraps his characters, as if urging us to see the world both as it is and as it could be… a reminder of the goodness we can and must find in every moment, and of the injustice that makes goodness necessary.”—Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

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