“Trust love, all the way.” Those are the final words of Barry Jenkins’ full-length trailer for his adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel, If Beale Street Could Talk, which was released by Annapurna pictures on Thursday morning.
The Oscar-winning director’s follow-up to 2016's gorgeous Moonlight is already generating Oscar buzz of its own, well ahead of its Nov. 30 release and Oct. 9 premiere at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater.
The film, which is based on Baldwin’s acclaimed 1974 novel, stars the luminous KiKi Layne as Tish Rivers, a young pregnant woman in 1970's Harlem attempting clear the name of her innocent fiancé, Alonzo Hunt (played by Stephan James), ahead of the birth of their child. The film also stars recent Emmy winner Regina King as Tish’s mother, Sharon (also garnering pre-Oscar buzz), Teyonah Parris, Aunjanue Ellis, Atlanta star Brian Tyree Henry and more.
As Jenkins recently told Entertainment Weekly:
To be on set and see… all these amazing actors perform some of these scenarios and scenes that were written in 1974, and it felt like we could walk off set and they would happen right there two blocks away today, I think that was proof positive of what I hope people take from the film ... Which is [that] America has come a long way, there have been so many progresses that we’ve all made, yet there’s still so much farther to go. And if we don’t always pay attention to the distance we have to travel, we won’t get anywhere.
Perhaps surprisingly, Jenkins considers his adaptation a companion piece to Moonlight, a film about a young gay man coming of age in a low-income Miami neighborhood, which famously took home the Best Picture award after big-budget musical romance and industry favorite La La Land was initially declared the winner at the 2017 Academy Awards.
“It all started in the summer of 2013 when I wrote these two screenplays,” Jenkins told EW. “I always considered them like a pair or a duet, telling the same story but in two different worlds.”
For lead actress KiKi James, it’s all about the love—as she told the audience at the 2018 Essence Festival, after a screening:
“Love is the biggest takeaway. This film is born in tragedy ... This movie will show you all that life can take you through, dragging you through the mud and still there’s love on the other side.”