Barry Jenkins Gives a New Life to James Baldwin’s Legacy with If Beale Street Could Talk: TIFF Review

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If there’s anything to be said about Barry Jenkins, his track record is already setting himself up to become one of this generation’s best working filmmakers after his Academy Award-winning second film Moonlight, so how does he manage to follow up with his third film? Adapting the words of James Baldwin onto the screen shouldn’t seem like such an easy task for just about any writer-director, yet Barry Jenkins shows himself to be the perfect choice with relative ease. But as every small detail starts to come together in order to form what Barry Jenkins manages to bring to life in his own adaptation of If Beale Street Could Talk, you already start to feel that this film was so clearly made out of love for the text of Baldwin. This is a romance story on the surface, but Jenkins also takes that template to make something more meditative, just as Baldwin’s own social critiques would have inspired from American society back in his time – for watching this film we only find his message is still alive. There’s no better way to put how fully realized an effort like this is, and for all I know it may very well be one of the decade’s most beautiful films.

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