Perth Theatre Perth
“If Beale Street Could Talk” is a 2018 American romantic drama directed and written by Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight” 2016), and based on James Baldwin's novel of the same name. It is a timeless and heart-stopping story of a couple's unbreakable bond, and the empowering embrace of the African-American family.
Set in early-1970s Harlem, the film follows a young woman who, with her family's support, seeks to clear the name of her wrongly charged lover and prove his innocence before their child is born. The story is told through the eyes of 19-year-old Tish (KiKi Layne) who, as a daughter and mother-to-be vividly recalls the passion, respect and trust between her and her artist fiancé Fonny (Stephan James). The devoted couple dream of a future together, but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit.
The film flashes back to Tish and Fonny's life before he went to prison and we see them on an early date, walking through New York city, and gradually falling in love. Back in the present, Tish visits Fonny in prison to tell him that she's having his baby. Both are thrilled despite their circumstances, but Tish must decide whether to tell Fonny’s family and is uncertain as to how they might react. We also find out more about the evidence that stacks up against Fonny – a white police officer claims he saw Fonny running from the scene of the crime, and the assault victim identifies Fonny in a police line-up and then disappears. Fonny's lawyer reckons this will be a tough case to win.
These sharply contemporary themes reflect the opening quotation from Baldwin’s novel - “Every black person born in America was born on Beale Street” and the film very much honours the author's prescient words and imagery. The story charts and navigates an unforgiving and racially biased world, but also shows how love and humanity endure.
Layne and James are perfectly cast as the young couple, but the power of their performances is matched by all of the supporting players. Deservedly, the film won 52 of the 129 award nominations world-wide in 2019, including Best Film from each of the Austin and the Boston Film Critics. In addition, Regina King as Tish’s mother Sharon, won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in recognition of her brilliantly modulated performance that is a masterclass in physical understatement.
Tickets & Information
Cert 15; 2018; 119 min; English, Spanish
£6; seniors/unwaged/students £5
(buy all 7 films at the same time and save 15%)
About Perth Film Society
Perth Film Society is a Perthshire based cinema group that gives film fans the chance to see little-known and cult movies on the big screen. This season, the team behind the has hand-picked some international gems for its new season and has added a couple of additions to its usual programme of 7 films.
These include Kes, to coincide with the Perth Theatre production, and a retrospective of "Thelma and Louise" in conjunction with Perth and Kinross Violence Against Women Partnership. Look out for more details coming soon.