If Beale Street Could Talk Parent Guide
One of the most technically proficient films of the year, with superb actors portraying some of the most relatable, caring, and genuine characters to grace the screen. (Caveat: sexual content.)
Parent Movie Review
If Beale Street Could Talk follows young lovers Clementine “Tish” Rivers (KiKi Layne) and Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt (Stephan James) through their lives in New York city in the 1970s. When Fonny is arrested for a rape he could not have possibly committed, Tish sets out to prove his innocence. But the young woman has to work against the clock: she is pregnant and wants Fonny to be free in time to be a father. Tish is forced to navigate a system she has little experience with while earning money to pay for legal support and trying to keep herself and her baby healthy.
This is one of those movies that manages to be completely terrifying without ever putting anything scary or gory on film. The audience is introduced to some of the most relatable, caring, and genuine characters to grace a screen, and then forced to watch as they struggle to get by in exceptionally difficult and emotionally exhausting circumstances. The tension in the film is relentless, barely giving viewers a chance to catch their breath.
The movie is adeptly shot and scored, with some truly beautiful cinematography balancing itself against a score that is equal parts slow and brassy jazz and a dangerous deep electronic drone that ensures audiences feel the characters’ worries. Every actor puts in a magnificent performance, managing to illuminate their character’s fears and concerns without saying a word. If Beale Street Could Talk is one of the technically most proficient films of the year in almost every category.
The primary content issues with this film are profanity and sex. Characters frequently use profanity in all categories, including ten sexual expletives and four racial slurs. Sexual content is limited to two scenes; they involve nudity above the waist and one of the scenes is at least five minutes long. The sex in this film is not pornographic, but it is lengthy and the couple is not married. Otherwise, the film has little violence and substance use. There are very few instances of crudeness or outright hostility and the film tends to take a thoughtful and considerate approach to both characters and situations.
The real wonder of the film is the straightforward way it approaches the difficult subject of race in America, particularly within the criminal justice system. Without devoting a great deal of time or dialogue to underlying systemic problems, If Beale Street Could Talk takes viewers through the realities of the situation and makes them so unbearably human that they become impossible to dismiss. If Beale Street won’t speak to you, this movie certainly will.
If Beale Street Could Talk opens on Christmas Day in some cities with a broader release in January.Directed by Barry Jenkins. Starring KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo, Michael Beach, Aunjanue Ellis. Running time: 119 minutes. Theatrical release December 14, 2018. Updated January 21, 2019
Watch the trailer for If Beale Street Could Talk
If Beale Street Could Talk
Rating & Content Info
Why is If Beale Street Could Talk rated R? If Beale Street Could Talk is rated R by the MPAA for language and some sexual content
Violence: A man slaps his wife hard across the face. A man is shown with minor injuries to the face, which are not explained. A man attempts to assault a woman in a store and is taken outside, thrown to the ground, and kicked twice. A woman accuses a man of sexual assault.
Sexual Content: Two graphic sex scenes are shown, with nudity above the waist; the woman’s breasts are clearly visible. Sexual activity, while not pornographic, is detailed and lengthy with images of a man thrusting and couple climaxing. A young woman has an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. A woman is shown delivering a baby; genitals are briefly seen.
Profanity: There are approximately five dozen uses of profanity in this movie, with 10 sexual expletives, 24 scatological terms, four racial slurs, and a mix of mild and moderate curse words. Frequent use of profanity in the “Extreme” and “Moderate” categories.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters are shown drinking socially but never to excess. No one is ever shown as drunken. Many characters are shown smoking (unsurprising given the film’s setting in the early seventies). Marijuana is mentioned, but no drugs are seen.
Page last updated January 21, 2019
If Beale Street Could Talk Parents' Guide
African-Americans are more likely than white men to be arrested, charged, prosecuted, and convicted and will receive longer sentences even though they commit crimes at roughly . Why do you think this is? What do you think could be done to make the justice system color-blind?
Read books about If Beale Street Could Talk
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a book structured as a letter to the author’s son about the authors experiences as a black man in America and is an excellent and fascinating pseudo-autobiography. The March series of graphic novels are written by Congressman John Lewis and describe his time in the civil rights movement and his involvement with racial politics afterwards. Home to Harlem by Claude McKay follows a young black WWI veteran as he comes to terms with the country he was willing to die for.
Related home video titles:
A classic film that still speaks today is To Kill a Mockingbird which tells the story of an African-American man who is falsely accused of sexual assault.
Another black man falsely accused of rape is the defendant in Marshall. This biopic retells a famous case of his attorney, Thurgood Marshall, first African-American appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States.
In a story ripped from the headlines, The Hate U Give focuses on the fall-out of a police shooting of an unarmed African-American teen. The girl in the car with him is forced to decide if she should remain silent or face the risks of testifying about what really happened.