If Beale Street Could Talk

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Patricia Maunder Friday, 08 February 2019
Published in ABR Arts

There is an inordinate weight of expectation on Barry Jenkins’s third feature, If Beale Street Could Talk. His previous film, Moonlight, won three Oscars in 2018, including Best Picture (after La La Land’s mistaken-award chaos), and was nominated in five other categories. Furthermore, this is the first English-language film adaptation of a work by celebrated African-American writer James Baldwin, whose oeuvre includes his 1953 semi-autobiographical novel Go Tell It on the Mountain.

Like Moonlight, Jenkins’s latest observes the disadvantage inherent in the black American experience. It uses a time-hopping narrative shot with poetic tenderness. While easy-to-follow flashbacks and flash-forwards heighten the inevitable tragedy between the two young lovers at the film’s heart, their romance is wrapped up in too much poetic tenderness to make this as satisfying as its predecessor.

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Patricia Maunder

Patricia Maunder

Patricia Maunder has been a media professional for more than twenty-five years, covering travel, lifestyle, and the arts in print, online, and radio. She has extensive experience as an arts critic, particularly theatre, opera, books, and film, including for Australian Book Review, Limelight, and ArtsHub. Based in Melbourne, she lived in Montreal in 2012–16, and is the author of a travel guidebook for that city to be published by Hardie Grant in April 2019. www.patriciamaunder.com

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