Top critical review
25 February 2019
“If Beale Street could talk” is a romantic drama about a young couple who wants to get married. Tish and Fonny are African-Americans. They live in Harlem in New York City. Their story is set in the 1970s. When Fonny is arrested and sent to jail for a crime he did not commit, Tish and her family must do everything they can to prove his innocence and get him out of jail.
Here is some basic information about this drama which premiered in 2018:
** Writer and director: Barry Jenkins
** Based on a book by James Baldwin
** Run time: 119 minutes
The cast includes the following:
** Kiki Layne as Clementine Rivers – “Tish” – she is 19
** Stephan James as Alonzo Hunt – “Fonny” – he is 22
** Regina King as Sharon Rivers – mother of Tish
** Colman Domingo as Joseph Rivers – father of Tish
** Teyonah Parris as Ernestine Rivers – sister of Tish
** Bryan Tyree Henry as Daniel Carty - one of Fonny's friends
** Emily Rios as Victoria Rogers – a woman from Puerto Rico
** Ed Skrein as police officer Bell
James Baldwin (1924-1987) was an American author whose novel “If Beale Street could talk” was published in 1974.
The drama begins with an on-screen message from James Baldwin:
“Beale Street is a street in New Orleans where my father, where Louis Armstrong and the jazz was born. Every black person born in America was born on Beale Street, born in the black neighborhood of some American city.”
While this message is helpful, it is only a partial explanation. Because the title of the drama is not “Beale Street.” The title is “If Beale Street could talk.” So what does it mean? Here is the real answer:
The title of the book and the movie is a line in a song called “Beale Street Blues” written by W. C. Handy (1873-1958) in 1916. The Beale Street in the song is a street in Memphis, Tennessee. The song was recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1954. It is available online. Here is a small part of the lyrics:
** If Beale Street could talk
** Married men would have to take their beds and walk
** Except one or two who never drink booze
** And the blind man on the corner who sings the Beale Street Blues
In the drama, there is a scene where Fonny places a record on a gramophone. The music begins. I was hoping to hear the Beale Street Blues, but unfortunately it was another tune. Why not play the song after which the book and the movie are named? A missed opportunity!
What do reviewers say about this drama? Here are the results of three review aggregators:
** 75 per cent = IMDb
** 73 per cent = Meta (the audience)
** 87 per cent = Meta (the critics)
** 68 per cent = Rotten Tomatoes (the audience)
** 94 per cent = Rotten Tomatoes (the critics)
As you can see, the ratings are good. When you look at Meta and Rotten Tomatoes, you can see that there is a clear difference between the general audience and the professional critics. The critics like this movie much more than the audience.
In this case, I have to side with the audience. This movie is highly overrated by the critics. What is wrong? Here is my answer:
It is too long; the story is too slow and too thin; and the ending is wrong. I do not want to offer any details, because I do not wish to spoil the viewing for anyone.
This drama is not great; it is not even good; it is average. Therefore it cannot get more than three stars.