'Moonlight's Director Is Back With A Masterpiece But There's A Catch For His UK Fans

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In the past few years, screenwriter and director Barry Jenkins has caused a stir in Hollywood. Ever since Moonlight won the Best Picture Oscar in 2017, fans have been wondering what he'll come up with next. His new film is set to be just as moving with its depiction of African American life. But when is If Beale Street Could Talk out in the UK?

Well, it is released in the U.S. at the end of this month but won't hit our shores until 8 February, a publicist for the film told Bustle. The film is an adaptation of novelist James Baldwin's 1974 book of the same name. The plot follows the lives of childhood sweethearts Tish and Fonny as they grow closer together and are then torn apart by a false rape accusation. While Fonny is stuck behind bars, Tish finds out she is pregnant and must fight alongside others in her community to find evidence that will free her partner.

Although the situation sounds indescribably bleak, as the Guardian reports, critics have labelled the film as having a sense of optimism throughout. The newspaper reports that playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, who is a past collaborator of Jenkins, told the director that If Beale Street Could Talk is "not a New York of places. It's a New York of faces." Jenkins added: "I think the faces that existed in the time of Baldwin are still present in the New York I see today"

Luckily, Jenkins had some help from the late Baldwin. During his life, the author had written notes on how he'd like to see his book adapted to the silver screen. His family gave Jenkins all of the notes. Jenkins told the Huffington Post that he had actually finished the draft of the screenplay before he received the notes but described them as "almost like a confirmation. There was certain things that he wanted to do, that I instinctually had done also in my adaptation. So it's really moving. To be anywhere near anything that Mr. Baldwin did is an honour. And to be trusted with the material was the highest honour."

Living up to his reputation of giving people a break, Jenkins has cast a newcomer as one of the lead roles. Kiki Layne will play Tish while Stephan James (who previously starred in 2016 sports drama Race) will take on the role of Fonny. Other names to look out for include Teyonah Parris, Regina King, Brian Tyree Henry, and a special cameo from Dave Franco.

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Just like Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk has an overt political edge. "It's just about how open and honestly the characters talk, very directly to the truth of the political situation of black folks in the time the movie is set," Jenkins told the Huffington Post. "I think the act of living is a political act. The act of loving is a political act. But, in this film, those things are actually spoken out loud, in a way that we've all spoken behind closed doors with folks we trust."

If that's not a reason to book your cinema ticket come January, I don't know what is.

Update: An earlier version of this article cited the Guardian's report on the film's release date. The release date has now been moved and the article has been updated to reflect that.