Director Barry Jenkins has given audiences another acclaimed movie with “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which is currently in theaters. Set in early-1970s Harlem, it is based on the novel by the late James Baldwin (1924-1987) and is a story of love in the face of injustice.
KiKi Lane portrays Tish Rivers and Stephan James portrays Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt. The two young sweethearts are ripped apart when Fonny is wrongly arrested for the rape of a Puerto Rican woman due to the maneuvering of a racist police officer.
While seeking justice for Fonny, a pregnant Tish relies on her Harlem community, including her mother (Regina King), her sister (Teyonah Parris) and future mother-in-law (Aunjanue Ellis). King won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting actress for her role.
Jenkins made Oscar history as an African-American filmmaker for “Moonlight,” the haunting story of a Black boy coming to terms with his sexuality and identity in a neighborhood ravaged by poverty and drugs.
“Moonlight” won 2017 Oscars for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali).
In preparation for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” Jenkins received a leather notebook from Baldwin’s estate filled with the author’s handwritten notes about how he would have approached a film version.
“When I opened it, it was like this slow epiphany – this dawning where I understood what I was holding,” Jenkins said. “And it was electric. It wasn’t this thing where they were sending me this thing to go: ‘Just so you know, this is how Jimmy wanted it done.’ If anything, it was a confirmation that we were moving in the same spirit.”