If Beale Street Could Talk

Set in 1974, when New York City verged on bankruptcy and its neighborhoods were unraveling, director Barry Jenkins’s luminous adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel finds beauty and hope amid the decay and desperation in Harlem and Greenwich Village. This tender, lushly romantic drama follows Tish and Fonny, childhood friends who grow into adult soul mates (KiKi Layne and Stephan James), but who are sundered after they conceive a baby and a racist white cop frames Fonny for rape. Standouts among the supporting cast include Regina King as Tish’s staunchly protective mother, and Brian Tyree Henry as Fonny’s friend, hollowed out by his own recent two-year prison term on a trumped-up charge. James Laxton’s cinematography is even more richly hued than his work on Jenkins’s Moonlight, and the sound design and Nicholas Britell’s score add to the movie’s brimming sensory pleasures. With Colman Domingo, Michael Beach, Diego Luna, Pedro Pascal, and Emily Rios.