If Beale Street Could Talk Blu-ray Review
"I hope that nobody has ever had to look at anybody they love through glass."
If Beale Street Could Talk Film Review
Barry Jenkins' follow-up to his Oscar-winning Moonlight is a beautiful, sorrowful, scathingly bleak and fleetingly hopeful journey down Beale Street.After unexpectedly (at least at the ceremony, that is) winning the Oscar for his beautiful Moonlight, it is unsurprising that there would be some expectations regarding his next feature, and Jenkins was clearly resolved to meet them, delivering a powerful and largely excellent follow-up which is every bit as beautiful.
The story charts the star-crossed love of a young couple who are trying to survive - against all odds - in 1970s Harlem. Tish and Fonny have known each other for all of their lives, and when they finally realise their true feelings for one another, it seems like they were simply destined to be together. Suffering a painful war between their parents, and struggling with little money, the worst is yet to come, as a horrific accusation threatens to tear them apart.
Jenkins is like a budding Golden Era Malick
Jenkins is like a budding Golden Era Malick when it comes to his gorgeously evocative and palpably emotive visual aesthetic, lingering on facial close-ups, and trading in mood and feelings as much as conventional narrative. Allowing his characters to feel their way through some great roles, this makes for an excellent companion-piece to Moonlight, with Jenkins crafting something akin to a defining style which may well come to pleasantly pervade all of his works.
There's some considerable social horror here, and Jenkins champions righteous outrage well, as well as impotence against the corrupt system, even if it is sometimes hard to remember that things may have changed in the last half a century when faced with this scathing picture of 70s New York; a very black and white view of purely innocent good and Bond villain-like evil that - not wholly unlike Netflix's recent When They See Us - is hard to distance from what you would hope for from a modern-day 2019 society.
Jenkins must, out of necessity, keep things somewhat simplistic, in order to avoid clouding the powerful issues of racism that he wants to address. Thankfully, his powerful, earnest and emotional core performances deliver a wholesome heart and soul of a production which, despite trading in seemingly perpetual and insurmountable doom, also never gives in, affording a tangential sense of hope that keeps it - and your - heart beating.
If Beale Street Could Talk Blu-ray PictureEntertainment One's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release of If Beale Street Could Talk affords this exquisitely shot gem an absolutely striking 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in its original 2.00:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio. Reportedly digitally shot at resolutions of 6.5K, and translated here using a full-fat 4K Digital Intermediate, the only shame is that there is no 4K release on the horizon.
Not just demo but utterly reference
As aforementioned, Jenkins frequently trades in Malickian shots of unparalleled natural beauty, lingering on facial close-ups, and bathing the frame in warm, lavish shots that are intensely rich. Detail is excellent, with the image bathed in palpable texture and frequently picture-perfect, affording a freeze-frame like quality to several shots which is impressive to behold.
The colour scheme enjoys some level of 70s period stylisation, but embraces the browns and converts them into a rich landscape of shots that appear to translate orange streetlights into golden candlelight, delivering a warmth and vibrancy that belies the setting. Impenetrably deep black levels offer a welcome backbone to the piece, rounding out an outstanding video presentation for a tremendously visual film, affording viewers some measure of not just demo but utterly reference material to play with.
If Beale Street Could Talk Blu-ray SoundThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also does an excellent job with the sublime score, further enhancing the emotional weight of the piece, and perfectly marrying up to the wondrous visuals.
The audio does an excellent job with the sublime score
Dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the fronts and centre channels, afforded clear and coherent dissemination throughout, whilst effects bring the natural authenticity of the environment to life, trading in 70s Harlem street sounds, subway noises, bustling cars and crowds, and echoing prisons, as the narration plays out almost transcendentally over the array.
The score, at times subtle and at times powerful, affords an excellent backbone to the proceedings, carefully carrying through the emotional journey, and rounding out a superb audio track.
If Beale Street Could Talk Blu-ray ExtrasA decent selection of extras
A decent selection of extras rounds out the disc, headlined by an Audio Commentary (oddly accessible only via the sound menu not the extras menu) from writer/director Barry Jenkins, with a solid half-hour accompanying Making-of Featurette peppered with Interviews snippets, over 20 minutes of Deleted Scenes with optional Director's Commentary, a Gallery and a Trailer.
If Beale Street Could Talk Blu-ray VerdictAn excellent companion-piece to Moonlight, with Jenkins crafting something akin to a defining style which may well come to pleasantly pervade all of his works
If Beale Street Could Talk comes to UK Blu-ray complete with excellent video and audio, and a solid selection of nice extras, and remains a highly recommended film, particularly for those who enjoyed Moonlight.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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