Today, August 2, is James Baldwin’s birthday, so what better time to reveal the first trailer for Barry Jenkins’ Baldwin adaptation?
Since winning the Best Picture Oscar for Moonlight last year, Jenkins has kept pretty busy. He’s been working on Amazon’s The Underground Railroad series, he directed one of the best episodes of Netflix’s Dear White People, and he’s been making his next movie, If Beale Street Could Talk. An adaptation of Baldwin’s fifth novel published in 1974, the story follows a young black couple in 1970s New York City. The book opens with the 19-year-old Tish talking ti her boyfriend Fonny, only from the other side of a sheet of glass – he’s stuck in jail for a rape and murder he didn’t commit. She and her family work to get Fonny free, but to make matters more complicated, she’s pregnant with his child.
The first trailer beautifully brings us into Tish (Kiki Layne) and Fonny’s (Stephan James from Race and Selma) world without even telling us anything about the plot. Jenkins’ imagery makes it clear enough: the grungy subway, the stifling summer nights, the face of an angry white cop, a shot of Fonny banging against a locked subway gate, all as Baldwin’s own words are played from a recording. Much like the first Moonlight trailer, Jenkins conveys so much by saying so little.
If Beale Street Could Talk also stars Regina King, Atlanta‘s Brian Tyree Henry, Colman Domingo, Ed Skrein, Pedro Pascal, Diego Luna, Finn Wittrock, Teyonah Pariss, Emily Rios, and Dave Franco. Before it hits theaters November 30, Jenkins’ film makes its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month, so stay tuned for our review then.