'If Beale Street Could Talk': A story of love and survival

Annapurna Pictures

Stephan James and KiKi Layne in “If Beale Street Could Talk.”

Based on the 1974 novel by James Baldwin, “If Beale Street Could Talk,” will be making its way to theaters this weekend.

In an article on IndieWire, it stated that Director Barry Jenkins actually wrote the screen adaptation for the film even before he had the rights from Baldwin’s family (Baldwin died in 1987).

He said in the article that in Dec. of 2013 he was broke and tired and had just finished writing the screenplay “Moonlight.”

The story circles around the character of Fonny (Stephan James, “Race” and “Selma”) and Tish (Kiki Layne, “Chicago Med” and “Veracity”) who are in love.

This protects them from their respective families and the outside world until Fonny is falsely accused of rape. He is jailed and held before trial.

Tish finds out she is pregnant and her family gives her support for the coming baby. They help her find a lawyer to defend Fonny, hoping to find evidence to free him before the baby is born.

Layne said during an interview at the Toronto Film Festival that she was excited to bring one of Baldwin’s works to life but tried not to think too much about that pressure or get too caught up in what opinions may be.

“I would feel good about it as long as I knew I’m bringing the truth, I’m bringing the integrity,” she said.

Jenkins said in the same interview that “black people speak in this film the way they speak amongst themselves and when people walk to the theater, they’re going to be allowed into this experience of what it’s like to be black in America, because we pull no punches.”

The movie review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes, shows the film having a 69 percent audience rating and a “certified fresh” 95 percent rating on the critics’ Tomatometer.

“’If Beale Street Could Talk’ honors its source material with a beautifully filmed adaptation that finds director Barry Jenkins further strengthening his visual and narrative craft,” was the critics consensus on the website.

The film is rated R for language and some sexual content.

Other movies this week to rental outlets include:

n “Aquaman,” directed by James Wan and starring Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman and Willem Dafoe. The film reveals the origin story of half-human, half-Atlantean Arthur Curry and takes him on the journey of his lifetime - one that will not only force him to face who he really is, but to discover if he is worthy of who he was born to be - a king.

The film is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language.

n “Second Act,” directed by Peter Segal and starring Jennifer Lopez, Milo Ventimiglia, Leah Remini and Treat Williams. Lopez stars as Maya, a 40-year-old woman struggling with frustrations from unfulfilled dreams. Until, that is, she gets the chance to prove to Madison Avenue that street smarts are as valuable as book smarts, and that it is never too late for a second act.

The film is rated PG-13 for some crude sexual references, and language.

The synopsis for all films comes from rottentomatoes.com.

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