Monday, March 25, 2019

If Beale Street Could Talk Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
From Academy Award Winner Barry Jenkins, adapted from James Baldwin’s acclaimed novel, comes this timeless love story set in early 1970s Harlem. Newly engaged 19-year-old Tish (KiKi Layne) and her fiancĂ© Fonny (Stephon James) have a beautiful future ahead. But their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Now the pair and their families must fight for justice in the name of love and the promise of the American dream in this lush, moving, dramatic film, also starring Regina King.

Film (4 out of 5 stars)
Tish is a 19-year-old girl living in Harlem with her family. Her fiancĂ©, Fonny, is in jail awaiting trial for a crime he didn’t commit. Tish and Fonny had a bright future ahead of them – they had just signed papers for a new apartment, they were planning their wedding, and they were truly happy. Unfortunately, the only time Tish can spend time with Fonny is from the other side of the glass with Fonny awaits trial. On one visit, Tish tells Fonny she is pregnant, and even though he is in jail, they begin making plans. Tish will stay with her family until Fonny’s fate is decided. When Tish tells her family, they are ecstatic and invite Fonny’s family over to celebrate with.

Tish’s mother is determined to help Fonny prove his innocence, and Tish’s sister is willing to help by finding and paying for a lawyer. As time passes, and Tish’s pregnancy progresses, the family does everything they can to find the victim of the crime Fonny was arrested for, including tracking her down in Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, the victim will not recant her story, or admit that Fonny wasn’t the person who attacked her. In the end, instead of risking it all and going to trial, Fonny takes a deal and does his time.

Told through a present time narrative and in flashbacks, If Beale Street Could Talk is a lovely story of love and trust between Tish and Fonny. Seeing the story progress from their happy ending to Fonny’s imprisonment and Tish’s faithfulness to him despite of his accusation, I really enjoyed their story. The way it was told kept me engaged and wanting to know more. After finding out the movie is based on a book, I added the story to my list of books to read.

The acting by KiKi Layne (Tish) and Stephan James (Fonny) was really good. They had great chemistry and were really believable as a couple. Regina King was excellent as Tish’s mother, and really portrayed the love she had for her daughter and for the life her daughter should have had. The direction was smart and the decisions made by the director for his cast were excellent. I loved the chemistry between the cast. The whole story was believable and it really made me feel for the family. 
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
The widescreen presentation of the movie is quite lovely. The picture is bathed in soft light in just the right places, and it really adds to the movie. Each scene is crisp and clear, and it’s a nice picture to watch. The coloring is really well done, and it is perfectly balanced between dark, light, and in between. 
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
The audio soundtrack for If Beale Street Could Talk was excellent. The music was haunting and lovely. It really gave substance to the movie. The English Digital 5.1 Master Audio was even and the volume was just right. Dialogue was clear and the actors articulated their lines well. Audio is also available in English Descriptive Audio. Subtitles are available in English for the deaf and hard of hearing, Spanish, and the commentary is in both English and Spanish. 
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
  • Commentary with Director Barry Jenkins
  • Deleted Scenes (22:17) – Nine deleted scenes available in a play all option or individually. These scenes are also available with or without commentary from Director Barry Jenkins.
    • Meet the Rivers
    • Where My Life Is
    • Old Enough to Know
    • What Have They Done?
    • Have a Good Day, Sir
    • I Saw Bell Everywhere
    • Somos Familia
    • They Found Frank
    • A Great Big Table
  • If Beale Street Could Talk: Poetry in Motion (27:35) – Behind the Scenes with the director, the cast, the crew. This gave some really good insight on the film, the original story, and the history.
  • Gallery (1:05) – Still photos from the film
  • Theatrical Trailer 
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
If Beale Street Could Talk is a hauntingly lovely movie that tells the story of two kids trying to start a life together. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but wanted to see it because it was an Academy Award nominee. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I loved the story of Tish and Fonny and how close they were to their families. I know I will watch the movie again and will enjoy it as much, if not more, than I did the first time.

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