If Beale Street Could Talk

Set in early-1970s Harlem, If Beale Street Could Talk is a timeless and moving love story of both a couple’s unbreakable bond and the African-American family’s empowering embrace, as told through the eyes of 19-year-old Tish Rivers.

Director Barry Jenkins’s greatest achievement is to recreate Baldwin’s depiction of the psychological horror of racism, the dread and claustrophobia it generates, along with the surging passion the couple use to try to defeat it.

It’s a stunning and sensuous film, gorgeously crafted and performed – the story of young lovers in an unjust world. It’ll make your heart flutter and ache.

Nothing detracts from the quality of the ensemble’s performances. All the actors capably express their inner-most feelings about their happiness in each other’s company and the fearfulness of being a person of colour in America.

It’s a terrific film, as sinewy as it is sensuous, interweaving stark social-realist themes of prejudice, oppression and imprisonment with a poetic evocation of love, loss and, ultimately, transcendence.