The Best Picture win for Moonlight remains one of the most stunning in Academy Awards history, and that would be true even without the La La Land ballot mix-up fiasco. That low budget indie’s rise to the top beat all the odds, turning writer/director Barry Jenkins into an elite auteur.
Now comes the trailer for If Beale Street Could Talk, Jenkins’ first film since Moonlight. It’s based on the novel by author, speaker, social critic, and Civil Rights era icon James Baldwin (he was recently the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary portrait I Am Not Your Negro).
The subject matter couldn’t be more intriguing or timely either, and potentially volatile: a young woman sticks by her man (and father of her child) when he is falsely accused of a sexual assault.
It’ll be interesting to see how the marketing campaign navigates that premise through the current #MeToo zeitgeist; the first hint is that this debut trailer doesn’t even acknowledge the nature of criminal charge.
The fact that it’s based on an acclaimed Baldwin novel will likely cause critics and audiences to give the film a lot of leeway with the controversial topic; Jenkins is sure to guide it with integrity, too.
A nice touch: the trailer employs archival audio of Baldwin (he passed away in 1987) to underscore the film’s thematic and tonal ambitions.
Sure to be in the awards conversation later this year, If Beale Street Could Talk hits the fall festival circuit before opening in limited release at the end of November and expanding in January 2019.