Barry Jenkins reveals If Beale Street Could Talk trailer, and it will make you cry


Barry Jenkins paid tribute to James Baldwin by releasing a heart-rending trailer for his upcoming film If Beale Street Could Talk.

If we judge trailers by their ability to entice us to see the movie, 2018 has produced three great ones so far. First, Mission: Impossible – Fallout teased its action sequences in a pair of trailers that display more energy, style, and wit than most actual blockbusters. Second, there’s Damien Chazelle’s space thriller First Man, which showcased stunning visuals. And now, If Beale Street Could Talk joins the list.

On the 94th anniversary of James Baldwin’s birthday, Barry Jenkins unveiled a trailer for his adaptation of the celebrated author’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk. Set in 1970s Harlem, the story follows 19-year-old Tish Rivers as she copes with the incarceration of her boyfriend, who faces charges of rape.

Despite its intimate scope, If Beale Street Could Talk is a tricky novel to bring to the screen. Its power lies primarily in Baldwin’s tender, acerbic prose and Tish’s vivid first-person narration. In the wrong hands, it could easily succumb to insipid melodrama. But if any filmmaker can do the material justice, it is Jenkins, who exhibited a flair for coming-of-age romance and family drama with 2016’s sublime Moonlight.

To say the trailer is promising is an understatement. You can watch it below:

As an advertisement for the movie, it’s effective, capturing the book’s empathetic tone through a series of gently lit visuals courtesy of cinematographer James Laxton. (This is worlds away from the harsh, grubby Harlem normally depicted by Hollywood.)

As a standalone work of art, the trailer is downright breathtaking. From the circular structure to the use of Baldwin’s soothing, searing voice, every element slips into place like an instrument in an orchestra, precise yet brimming with emotion. It opens up a world and lets us walk around inside. By the time the title materializes, it feels as though we’ve gone on a journey.

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If Beale Street Could Talk stars Kiki Layne, Stephan James, Teyonah Parris, and Regina King. It will debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and is scheduled for release on Nov. 30.