If Beale Street Could Talk – Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Tom Grieve, Cinema Editor
HOME

19 May 2020 Tickets from £3.49 — Book now

Barry Jenkins’ follows up the surprise smash success of his Best Picture-winning Moonlight with an adaptation of novelist James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk. An unabashed melodrama of the highest order, the film takes place in 1970s Harlem, as it charts the plight of Fonny (Stephan James) and Tish (KiKi Layne), two childhood friends turned lovers who become caught up in the vile machinery of racist America. Crosscutting between two time periods a few months apart, in one strand Jenkins shows us the pair falling in love and searching for an apartment big enough to live and house a studio for Fonny, a sculptor, to work. In the other, he shows how Fonny has been penalised for a run-in with a police officer and imprisoned for a rape he did not commit, while the couple’s families, led by a now pregnant Tish fight tooth and nail to prove his innocence.

This is Baldwin’s story told in a style rooted in the international art house. The American writer spent much time in France and reportedly suggested 60s French auteur Francois Truffaut as his preferred director of the material. Jenkins is perhaps perfect, a black American who loudly stans Claire Denis all over Twitter. His adaptation is rich and dreamlike, prioritising textures and pops of colour. Atmosphere prevails, and if the characters fight insurmountable odds that prevent them full control over the trajectories of their lives, then Jenkins is sure to showcase the everyday pleasures they do control. There’s ceremony to a bottle of whisky and a palpable pop to the opening of a bottle of beer, a tomato leaves a red smear as it angrily splats onto a wall, and a first experience of sex is gentle and tenderly rendered – indeed, for a film about a sculptor, Jenkins’ moment-to-moment priorities are appropriately physical.

If Beale Street Could Talk’s flashback structure is less showy than the triptych construction of Moonlight. But it is equally effective; as we are drawn into the horrors of Fonny’s detainment and the efforts to have him released, we’re afforded sequences of the two leads falling in love some months earlier. Delivered with period detail, ravishing attention to colour and earnest performances, the love scenes sing and we swoon, but their power accumulates as the events of Fonny’s incarceration become desperate. The plot moves with the slow certainty of tectonic plates. Even as we might hope and wish for different conclusions and pray that someone might pull off one of the planned interventions, it is clear that the terrible might of racist white America makes only one outcome possible.

If Beale Street Could Talk is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video with a subscription, or to rent for a one off fee of £3.49.

19 May 2020 Tickets from £3.49 Book now

Where to go near If Beale Street Could Talk – Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Victoria Arcade
Leeds
Shopping Centre
Victoria Arcade

Leeds’ go to place for premium shopping, Victoria Arcade, has both style and substance in abundance.

Alborz
Levenshulme
Restaurant
Alborz

Much-loved Persian restaurant on Stockport in Levenshulme, reopened after a lengthy lockdown-related hiatus.

Manchester
Restaurant
Jaan

New food concept from the team behind Another Hand, based at Exhibition and serving up exceptional Persian cuisine.

York
Restaurant
Pearly Cow York

A flawless culinary adventure through Britain’s best seasonal meat and seafood dishes.

The Rose & Monkey Hotel
Manchester
Restaurant
The Rose & Monkey Hotel

The Rose & Monkey Hotel is one of the Northern Quarter’s best music-led bars, with a truly impressive beer garden. Our new favourite Manchester pub.

Skof by Tom Barnes
Manchester
Restaurant
Skof by Tom Barnes

One of the year’s biggest restaurant launches, Skof comes to Manchester’s Noma district, headed up by star of Simon Rogan’s restaurants, chef Tom Barnes.

Maya
Manchester
Restaurant
MAYA Manchester

MAYA is a stylish new restaurant and bar on the corner of Canal Street and Chorlton in central Manchester.

Manchester
Restaurant
New Wave Ramen

New Wave Ramen is a stylish, friendly Japanese ramen bar and restaurant on Tib Lane in the heart of Manchester.

What's on: Cinema

Until
CinemaCheetham Hill
Jewish Culture Club

Meet new people, explore contemporary cultural works and learn about Jewish culture with Jewish Culture Club at Manchester Jewish Museum.

free entry
La Chimera
Until
CinemaManchester
La Chimera at HOME

Josh O’Connor leads a ramshackle band of grave robbers in Alice Rohrwacher’s stunning new film, La Chimera.

from £7.95
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
CinemaManchester
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga at HOME

As the world fell, young Furiosa is snatched from the Green Place of Many Mothers and falls into the hands of a great Biker Horde led by the Warlord Dementus.

from £7.95
Into the Melting Pot at Manchester Jewish Museum: A photograph showing a theatre stage. On the right side we can see a woman in a pink hijab with a travel bag in her hand. She has a yellow star pinned to her black blouse. She looks concerned. In the background there is a group of 5 musicians playing medieval instruments.
CinemaManchester
Into the Melting Pot at Manchester Jewish Museum

Be transported back to 15th-century Andalucia for a screening of a concert play tackling stories around integration, love, heritage and racial identity. Part of Manchester Jewish Museum’s Synagogue Scratch Season.

from £10.00

Culture Guides

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Cinema in Manchester and the North

From the latest installment in the Mad Max franchise, to silent movie masterpieces we highlight the best new releases and big screen classics showing near you this month.