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.





First Match (2018)

Director: Olivia Newman

Writer: Olivia Newman (Screenplay)

Starring: Elvire Emanuelle, Jeanette Branch, Jimmy Gary Jr, Kim Ramirez, Colman Domingo, Jharrel Jerome, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II


Plot: Hardened by years in foster care, a teenage girl from Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood decides that joining the boys wrestling team is the only way back to her estranged father.


Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Power Drama


Story: First Match starts as we see troubled teenager Mo (Emanuelle) getting kicked out of her latest foster home, she turns tricks for money while trying settle in a new foster home waiting for a chance to return home to her recently released from prison father Darrel (Abdul-Mateen II).

Looking to get her life on track Mo joins the high school wrestling team to help with her discipline after her father used to teach before prison. As her skills increase so does the pressure from her father to make money from her to get rich quick, can Mo make the right decisions for her own life at this difficult moment in life.


Thoughts on First Match


Characters – Mo is a troubled teenager, she has been through the foster system making her defensive and aggressive to the world, out of her latest home she does find one that tries to care for her, she doesn’t let people into her life, but high school wrestling gets her focus back on track until her father returns leaving her to decide how to take on her life. Mo is a wonderful character to watch because she is an example to just how difficult the foster system can be in the wrong area. Omari is the oldest friend of Mo’s he has always tried to have her back through the hardship of her life. Darrel is Mo’s father, fresh out of prison and struggling to make ends meet who decides to push his daughter into a life of crime. We do get to see a new foster mother that is willing to look past Mo’s flaws and just care for her, the coach willing to give her a chance and the unlikely friend in the team.

PerformancesElvire Emanuelle is fantastic in this leading role, she gets the emotional decision making correct throughout the film and handles the wrestling well through the film, this is a true breakout performance for the young actress. The cast works well around Elvire with each performer letting her shine in each and every scene.

StoryWhen it comes to the story, we are given the traditional troubled teenager that learns discipline from a sport, wrestling, we see how they have made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes until they are ready to admit their own problems. It could be argued that we have seen this performer, but it is a tried and tested formula. The story has little glimpses at certain parts of Mo’s life, the most notable one I enjoyed was the foster mother Lucila and just how much she wants to care for any child that comes in her life. The conflict Mo goes through is hard to see because we know the right decision, but family is harder to turn away from.

SettingsThe film is set in Brooklyn which is known to be a rougher neighbourhood, which reflects just how the hard life would be for Mo.

Scene of the Movie –
The biggest decision.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The wrestling sequences are difficult to understand the scoring.

Final ThoughtsThis is a powerful drama about sport offering discipline to a misguided teenager that needs to get her life sorted before it is too late for her.


Overall: Sports drama that is a must.