First Trailer for Barry Jenkins' IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

The first look at writer/director Barry Jenkins' follow-up to his Best Picture winner (and first feature film), Moonlight, has appeared online today in honor of author James Baldwin who would have celebrated his ninety-fourth birthday today. How this is relevant is the fact Baldwin is the author of the source material for Jenkins' latest feature, If Beale Street Could Talk. The 1974 novel, which took its title from the 1916 W.C. Handy blues song "Beale Street Blues", is a love story set in Harlem in the early 1970's and follows Fonny (Stephan James of SELMA and who played Jesse Owens in Race) and Tish (KiKi Layne who will also star in the upcoming Rupert Wyatt thriller, Captive State, alongside John Goodman and Vera Farmiga). Fonny and Tish are in love with this beauty providing some layer of protection from the harsh reality of their family lives as well as the outside world. That is, until Fonny is falsely accused of rape. Of course, one wouldn't really get any of these story elements from this first trailer as Jenkins and Annapurna Pictures have decided to go more the route of a Terrence Malick-like pitch that features the stunning imagery of the film as captured by cinematographer James Laxton. This is largely effective as it is clear Jenkins is going for the emotional gut-punch to reel you in as he has his characters look directly into the camera, the expressions on their faces conveying a multitude of thoughts and feelings while their lips quiver as if on the edge of letting it all come out, but Jenkins cuts to black before they have a chance to do so. We're both mystified and hooked because we long to know what these beautifully rendered images have to say. I missed the 2016 documentary, I am Not Your Negro, which chronicled Baldwin as he told the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel, "Remember This House". The film is available to stream for free with an Amazon Prime subscription at the moment though, so I'll be sure to catch up with it soon as my anticipation for this new work from Jenkins is obviously through the roof.  It's also notable that this is the first time any Baldwin work has been adapted into an English-language film; something that Jenkins has acknowledged was difficult. Though, judging by this first trailer it certainly seems the filmmaker figured out a way to do it justice. If Beale Street Could Talk also stars Colman Domingo, Teyonah Parris, Michael Beach, Dave Franco, Diego Luna, Pedro Pascal, Ed Skrein, Brian Tyree Henry, Regina King, and opens November 30th, 2018.

Synopsis: In this honest and stunning novel, James Baldwin has given America a moving story of love in the face of injustice. Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin’s story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions–affection, despair, and hope. In a love story that evokes the blues, where passion and sadness are inevitably intertwined, Baldwin has created two characters so alive and profoundly realized that they are unforgettably ingrained in the American psyche.

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