The movie “If Beale Street Could Talk” is set in Harlem in the 1970’s. The story is simple and commonplace and about a young black couple of 22 and 19 who find out they are about to have a baby followed closely by the extreme contrast of two families reacting to such unexpected news.
The simplicity of this story then slowly changes into racial injustice – a major problem now, but much worse in the 1970’s. The question this movie makes you ask yourself is, would I rather be dead than in prison for something I did not do? Considering the realities of prison and for a long period of time, my guess that a high percentage of us would choose death – most especially if they were completely innocent. This story makes all of think about how many innocent people have been incarcerated over so many years just because they are black or poor and living in the wrong neighborhood at the exact wrong time. Politics, racism, incompetent lawyers who just don’t care and just plain horrible injustice has ruined more productive lives than can ever be counted. Many of us have been victims of injustice in our lives, our jobs or by circumstance but when your young and black and surrounded by poverty and racist police officers, this movie depicts a level of injustice that is unbearable and foreign to anyone who is not poor, black and living in hellish conditions.
The story of If Beale Street Could Talk was originally a novel written by James Baldwin and now made into a very good movie by Barry Jenkins who also directed the Academy Award winning film, “Moonlight”.
The acting in this movie is outstanding, starting with KiKi Layne, Stephan James and Regina King. If Beale Street Could Talk has already been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Drama and will very likely receive and Academy Award as best picture as well. This film is very high quality and I do recommend it.