ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – J – Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

Director: Barry Jenkins

Writer: Barry Jenkins (Screenplay) James Baldwin (Novel)

Starring: Kiki Layne, Stephen James, Regina King, Colman Domingo, Teyonah Parris, Michael Beach


Plot: A woman in Harlem embraces her pregnancy while she and her family struggle to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime.

Tagline – Trust Love All the Way

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Brilliant, Emotional and Memorable


Story: If Beale Street Could Talk starts as Tish Rivers (Layne) is just breaking the news to her love Alonzo ‘Fonny’ Hunt (James) about her pregnancy, the problem is that he is in jail. Sharon (King) is ready to support her daughter, while Joseph (Domingo) only worry is about his daughters age.

Tish wants to bring the baby into the world, first they must get him out of jail with his case being one that will only see the black community looking guilty off. We get to see how the case unfolds and how the two lovers feel in love through their lives.


Thoughts on If Beale Street Could Talk


Characters – Tish is the young woman whose life is about to change forever, she falls in love and becomes pregnant, she is about to embrace the next chapter of her life, only her partner is put in jail. She must find a way to get him out of jail ready to be the father the baby will require. She might not be the smartest or most skilled person, though she is filled with all the love required to be a mother. Fonny is the man in jail on a rape charge, he isn’t coping well in jail as we see just how friendly, genuine and hard working he is trying to become in life. Sharon is Tish’s mother, who will do anything to make sure her daughter and Fonny are together to raise their child, showing the most support of either sides family. We get to meet the people who are big parts of both Tish and Fonny’s life both before and after the incident to see their reactions to everything that does one.

PerformancesKiki Layne is fantastic in the leading role showing the innocence of the change in her life, the love her character is feeling and the uncertainty of her own future. Stephen James is wonderful to in this role of the wrongfully accused man. Regina King gets the most difficult scenes which will see her in search for the truth which will explain why she is the Oscar nominated star of this movie. The rest of the cast complete this movie wonderfully well bring their strength to each scene they are in.

StoryThe story here follows the pregnancy of a young woman in Harlem, while the father is falsely imprisoned waiting for a trial. We get to flashback to how they first met, fell in love and how they are continuing to support each other through the current situation. We do have to face the idea that we need to learn what really happened with the crime, who it was that committed the crime and why Fonny was the one expected to take the fall. The pacing of the story flows by as we do get to see just how difficult the lives of the people involved would have been. It is the subtle look at how the racist nature was still around, but how the families would continue to give themselves their best life.

Crime/RomanceThe crime idea of the film deals with how people would have been just framed for a crime. The romance is the most important part and the strongest part of the film as we see how the two lovers would have done everything to be together.

SettingsThe film shows us just how the black community would be together in locations around America, they became closer and stuck together when they see how they are treated from outsiders.

Scene of the Movie –
The tension of the police meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough focus on the criminal case.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful story of love, commitment and the difficult times faced back the black community in America.


Overall: Beautiful movie.





Moonlight (2016)

moonDirector: Barry Jenkins

Writer: Barry Jenkins (Screenplay) Tarell Alvin McCraney (Story)

Starring: Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris, Ashton Sanders, Jaden Piner, Jharrel Jerome, Andre Holland, Alex R Hibbert, Trevante Rhodes


Plot: A timeless story of human self-discovery and connection, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Powerful Drama


Story: Moonlight starts as Juan (Ali) a local drug dealer who sees Little (Hibbert) being bullied and offers him help with his girlfriend Teresa (Monae), Little real name is Chiron who lives with his abusive mother Paula (Harris) that does care about him but needs to satisfy her own drug habit.

We move onto meet Chiron (Sanders) in his teenage years still having problems at home and hanging out with Juan and Teresa to help him develop into the man he could be. At this stage of his life he still gets bullied but his friend Kevin still stands by his side and at this stage of his life Chiron starts to make discovers about himself.

The third chapter of Chiron’s life known as Black (Rhodes) shows him fully grown following in the footsteps of Juan but being his own man about it embracing his own sexuality.


Thoughts on Moonlight


StoryThe story here is a braver story than what we are used to seeing movies portray the modern day black man from the streets, as we are used to seeing the gangs and bling. This film brings us a coming of age story about discovering who one boy is meant to be, not letting others hold him back. While I do think this story is brilliant I couldn’t help but have myself wondering about some of the characters through the other chapters, I also do think not everyone will enjoy this one.

Characters/PerformancesThe characters are all surrounding the central character of Chiron through his young life from boy to his own man, this character is written to be brave different and diverse to anything we have seen within this genre and environment before which is huge for this film. Paula the mother does have the story arc you have come to expect through films like this while other characters are people that come into his life at the right time. You can’t fault a single performance in this movie because everyone is brilliant in what is a true performance display from a cast that is relatively unknown.

SettingsThe settings in the movie show just how rough the neighbourhood Chiron must grow up in which shows how easily he could be led astray from a path that will get him everything he wants from life.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant performance piece that would be considered essential viewing but isn’t going to be for everyone.


Overall: Special film that is written to top levels, performed to the best and most importantly taking on a subject we haven’t seen before.