Critic Reviews



Based on 49 critic reviews provided by
Jenkins captures the humor, verve, and considerable complexity of the prose.
In cutting against the aesthetic grain, Jenkins gently and wisely corrects our vision. The passionate glow of this filmmaker’s embrace belongs, quite rightly, to his characters. He is generous enough to also extend that embrace to us.
What Jenkins gets most right—what astonishes me the most about this film—is Baldwin’s vast affection for the broad varieties of black life. It’s one of the signature lessons of Baldwin’s work that blackness contains multitudes.
If Beale Street Could Talk stalls about halfway through with less involving developments and stilted roles for supporting characters...but it always regains its footing with another entrancing observation.
In some ways Beale feels less like a movie than a well-staged, meticulously shot play; a period piece that floats beyond its specific time and place and into the realm of allegory.
It’s a film with love at its root, both familial and romantic, and Jenkins fills so much of it with a radiating warmth.
If Beale Street isn’t quite as seamless as the Oscar-winning Moonlight, this adaptation of the James Baldwin novel still proves to be a stirring, absorbing experience that articulates something ineffable about everyday life.
If the movie’s slow burn seems to build toward a powerful release that doesn’t materialize, the sheer beauty of its craft and the heartfelt feeling behind every scene nonetheless command attention.
Jenkins creates many remarkable scenes, particularly as the male characters discuss the racist realities with which they live.
The movie quotes Baldwin as saying, “Every black person born in America was born on Beale Street,” but this one may as well be located inside a snow globe. In deciding how to translate Baldwin’s prose to the screen, Jenkins may as well have made Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” as a Douglas Sirk movie (or put Alice Waters’ “The Color Purple” through the Steven Spielberg filter).

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