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If Beale Street Could Talk

Director:  Barry Jenkins
Year Released:  2018
Rating:  1.5

Nineteen-year-old Tish (KiKi Layne) discovers she's pregnant with her boyfriend Fonny's (Stephan James) child, but he's incarcerated for a crime he said he didn't commit and the victim fled to Puerto Rico, so Tish's mother (Regina King) travels to meet with her to get her to change her story. Jenkins has a silky-smooth style - aided by a lovely soundtrack by Nicholas Britell - but the story - based on the novel by James Baldwin - is paper thin, with several scenes about how evil some white people are (Jenkins makes sure to keep his camera focused on corrupt officer Ed Skrein's twitchy face). It's another exercise in Liberal Baiting except with artistic aspirations, and for all the gauzy love-making and meditative moments (Malick is an influence), I still never found the Tish-Fonny relationship as potent as he wanted it to be (the fact that too many African-Americans are incarcerated for nonsense will never not be tragic, however).

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