Compared to how long we had to wait — eight long years — between Barry Jenkins’ first feature, Medicine for Melancholy, and his second, the deeply beloved Moonlight, it’s kind of a miracle that we’re already seeing another film from this modern master. This new one is a passion project for Jenkins, something that he’s been working on for years and years even before he had the rights to do so: an adaptation of James Baldwin’s classic 1974 novel If Beale Street Could Talk, and it’s an interesting stylistic departure for Jenkins as well, which sees him experimenting with period styles in a charming and fascinating way. To honor Baldwin’s birthday, Jenkins and Annapurna Pictures dropped the first trailer for the film on Thursday (August 2), and boy, is it something.
Take a look for yourself, and try not to cry:
Good god, are we excited to see this movie. We love how Jenkins is using his setting here — it’s perfectly realized and an excellent translation of the novel’s world to the screen — and his casting, which looks to be appropriately pitch-perfect. This has skyrocketed to the top of our most-anticipated list, and we’re not going to pollute this feeling with any talk of award nominations. It’s too early! Who cares!
Here’s a summary of the novel from Penguin/Random House: “Told through the eyes of Tish, a 19-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin’s story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions–affection, despair, and hope. In a love story that evokes the blues, where passion and sadness are inevitably intertwined, Baldwin has created two characters so alive and profoundly realized that they are unforgettably ingrained in the American psyche.”
If Beale Street Could Talk premieres at TIFF in September, before being released to theaters everywhere on November 30.