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Movie review: love and politics in If Beale Street could talk

James Baldwin was not only an integral part of the american intelligentsia around the middle of the 1900s, he was also a brilliant film critic. It is just one of several reasons to have high expectations of ”If Beale Street could talk", which is based on Baldwins novel from 1974. Another is that the director named Barry Jenkins, who this year made Floridamästerverket ”Moonlight”.

Baldwin was certainly not active as a reviewer, but he wrote sharp texts on film and representation, as viewed Hollywood as a key to what the collective consciousness. Because the dream factory is not turned to a black audience, were treated, for example, race through reassuring stories for white moviegoers, according to Baldwin. He wrote about the dissonance between these film images and the lived experience of the black population.

a central element in Raoul Pecks documentary about him, the oscar nominated ”I am not your negro” from 2017. Then had the ”Moonlight" is already assigned to Significantly for the best film, which gave Barry Jenkins the opportunity to realize their dream project.

the Result can be regarded as a sort of filmhistoriskt corrective and redress, to which the black characters may exist on their own terms, but it is also much more than that. The film accommodates, on the one hand, the romance with passionate heat, on the other hand, socialrealism with cold, hard facts.

the Film is set in New York city in the 1970s and depicts the burgeoning love between childhood friends Tish and Fonny, while in parallel we follow the tragic turnaround when Fonny gets falsely accused of rape. The chance to redress is limited to such as he.

It is also a story about their families, try to stay above the surface, with a variety of resources. While Tish has parents and a sister who support her have Fonnys mother and sisters an aptness to condemn and moralizing with reference to the Lord. One of filmårets most explosive dialogscener, a true chamber play in the concentrate, takes place when the Tish is going to tell Fonnys family that they are expecting a child – despite the fact that they did not have time to marry before he ended up in custody.

KiKi Layne and Colman Domingo plays Tish and Joseph. Photo: Annapurna Pictures

Barry Jenkins, who use beauty as a self-defense and resistance. Just as in the ”Moonlight” works in the aesthetic framework as a kind of protective casing in the meeting with an unforgiving reality. It does not allay the pain and will not create a safe place, but emphasises their human dignity and worth.

Jenkins bring life to their characters by being disarming, intimate, with a cautious silence and inquiring looks. This is not least the recurring close-ups with short depth of field on the Tish, respectively, Fonny. But when the world around them as well as cease to exist, it is not the expression of naïve romance as much as a reminder of the love that grace and respite.

the Tanks goes to the director Wong Kar-wai and, not least, cinematographer Christopher Doyle's images. Jenkins has, of course, also watched Douglas Sirk, the american melodramens master.

”If Beale Street could talk" is not, however, an equally transformative experience as ”Moonlight". Maybe it is because it is the historic mission obliges that the film does not feel as independent (”Moonlight" was also based on a model but it was not James Baldwin). It is a 1970s era film that at times becomes an exercise in kostymdrama, while in ”Moonlight,” there were a contrast between the contemporary misärskildringen and the elevated tenderness in the människobilderna.

It does not prevent the end result from the to be both seductive and politically sharp cinematography. Now I just have to hope that ”If Beale Street could talk” can pave the way for more James Baldwin-movies.

See more. Three other films about the afro-american 70: ”My name is Shaft” (1971), ”Killer of sheep” (1978), ”BlacKkKlansman” (2018).

Read more movie reviews in the DN

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