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If Beale Street Could Talk Analysis

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Art

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Analytical Review

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Marilee Snyman
12/05/2019
Film 101-03
If Beale Street Could Talk: Production Year - 2018, Screenplay - Barry Jenkins, Director
- Barry Jenkins
If Beale Street Could Talk is about an African-American woman, Tish (Kiki
Layne), in the 1970’s and her unbreakable bond with her loving artist fiance, Fonny
(Stephen James). It follows their love story as told from Tish’s perspective and its
survival through the obstacle of Fonny’s arrest for a crime he did not commit, all while
Tish is pregnant. It focuses on the strong bonds between two individuals that love each
other and their families.
Mise-en-Scene is everything that we see on the screen as it appears in front of
the camera. This includes the composition, props, lighting, costumes and the set of the
film. In his film, If Beale Street Could Talk, director Barry Jenkins utilizes all these
factors to convey the feelings of love, bonds and the intimacy connected to these. First,
we’ll take a look at the design of the film. Design can be multiple things, but the design
that the production designer used to make this film so intriguing is the set and the
actors’ wardrobe. In the movie, make-up is not something that we notice. Rather, the
lack of any outrageous make-up gives us the feeling of naturalism. The lack of make-up
reflects the natural love and comfort that all these characters share with each other. For
them, there is no need to hide behind colors and layers and it emphasizes the raw and
bare love that these characters are expressing, especially Tish and Fonny. Their

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wardrobes represent that of the 1970’s, but with more vibrant and exuberant colors.
There are a lot of rich greens and bright yellows. This was done to focus more on the
brilliance and color that these characters’ love brought into their lives, instead of the
hardships of being African-American in the 1970’s. The characters only wore minimal
variety of clothing, reflecting the poverty that they experienced. In the scenes where
Tish is reminiscing her and Fonny’s love story, she is wearing clothes that show off her
youthfulness and joy, whereas in the scenes after Fonny’s arrest, she is wearing more
mature clothes, emphasizing that this whole experience has forced her to grow-up and
be an adult. There is a scene where Tish is visiting Fonny in jail, and we can see that
she is wearing her mother’s sweater. This was done so that the audience could see that
she needs the comfort that Sharon’s sweater is providing her, letting us know that the
news she is bringing Fonny is not good. Another form of design that Jenkins used to
emphasize the theme of the film was the production set. Most of the scenes are done in
Harlem, New York, which is also where the characters in the film live. A lot of scenes
take place inside a living room, kitchen or dining room. When we think of families being
together, we usually think of them being in the kitchen together or sitting around the
dinner table. Jenkins conveys the bonds between the families, friends and Tish and
Fonny, by shooting most of their scenes together in these family rooms. The scenes
where Tish is visiting Fonny in jail is far from what we might expect from a jail visiting
room. Behind Fonny, we see a wall with different shades of bold yellow, almost giving
the effect of being boisterous. This wall is a perfect representation of Tish and Fonny’s
love: exciting, wild and pulsing. It reflects the ecstatic nature that African-American
families share when they are with loved ones.

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Marilee Snyman 12/05/2019 Film 101-03 If Beale Street Could Talk: Production Year - 2018, Screenplay - Barry Jenkins, Director - Barry Jenkins If Beale Street Could Talk is about an African-American woman, Tish (Kiki Layne), in the 1970’s and her unbreakable bond with her loving artist fiance, Fonny (Stephen James). It follows their love story as told from Tish’s perspective and its survival through the obstacle of Fonny’s arrest for a crime he did not commit, all while Tish is pregnant. It focuses on the strong bonds between two individuals that love each other and their families. Mise-en-Scene is everything that we see on the screen as it appears in front of the camera. This includes the composition, props, lighting, costumes and the set of the film. In his film, If Beale Street Could Talk, director Barry Jenkins utilizes all these factors to convey the feelings of love, bonds and the intimacy connected to these. First, we’ll take a look at the design of the film. Design can be multiple things, but the design that the production designer used to make this film so intriguing is the set and the actors’ wardrobe. In the movie, make-up is not something that we notice. Rather, the lack of any outrageous make-up gives us the feeling of naturalism. The lack of make-up reflects the natural love and comfort that all these characters share with each other. For them, there is no need to hide behind colors and layers and it emphasizes the raw and bare love that these charact ...
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