If Beale Street Could Talk has already been adapted once before as Where the Heart is back in 1998. While that French film is quite good, it’s missing something that makes Beale Street gel. If you’re just now reading this, you’re seeing my 10th attempt at trying to solidify my read on this movie. As the film is nearing its home video release, I wanted to try and put a pin in it. That being James Baldwin novels are hard to adapt.
Barry Jenkins is an intriguing filmmaker that has never stuck the landing for me. I was introduced to his work when a friend of the site sent me Medicine for Melancholy to cover. Being as though we’re still in the middle of archiving and fixing older posts, I have no idea where that original review might be now. Anyways, Baldwin novels are hard to adapt. I know that I’m repeating myself.
I get that we live in an era where a vocal minority are demanding that we ignore facts for the feels and acknowledge emotional weight. You should always try to identify with the emotion in a situation regardless of your ties. However, personal feelings and sympathy don’t override reality. The film’s structure is pretty soap opera-ish, but the movie boasts one of the year’s most stunning scores and gorgeous cinematography.
However, the weight of the material seems bound to the Baldwin text and this remains a best faith adaptation. The film’s defenders will fight you on how you should accept the material, but how you can’t relate to the material because you’re not part of X group. While you ponder that schizo stance, take a step back. What are they trying to do when you approach the film? It’s defense in the face of questioning.
Honestly, I know that I’m due another return to the film. Just look past the hype.