- Review by Kaya Savas - January 9, 2018
If Beale Street Could Talk reunites Nicholas Britell with director Barry Jenkins for their followup to Moonlight, which won the Oscar for Best Picture. If Beale Street Could Talktakes place in 1970’s Harlem, where Tish and Fonny fall in love and plan for a future together. Fonny is wrongfully arrested and incarcerated as Tish finds out she’s pregnant. The film follows the theme of love in all forms whether its the love of family, the love of your significant other, or the love of your child. Nicholas Britell delivers one of his most powerfully moving scores to date here as If Beale Street Could Talk finds a way to explore the human condition in an extremely powerful way.
Every so often you find a score that find the true essence of the story being told onscreen, and If Beale Street Could Talk is that score. Filmmaking should always be about exploring the human condition, and what Britell and Jenkins have built here as composer and director is truly powerful. The score opens with a simple piano and string motif that introduces a flutter of woodwinds. And it’s one of the most accurate musical representations of love you’ll ever hear. The whole score and film is about love, and every note works to build these characters and story around that theme. As the story progresses and stakes are raised, we feel Britell inject pain and uncertainty into the story. The music carries us through the darkness as much as it does through the light. While parts of the score carry a somber quality, there is also a nurturing warmth woven throughout. The way Britell uses strings and deep cello almost makes it feel like you’re being cradled and held.
The music also captures 1970’s New York perfectly. Britell was born and raised in New York City, and currently resides there unlike most film composers who relocate to Los Angeles. This makes the score a wonderful exploration of Britell’s own hometown, he finds a way to capture the sound of New York City while still serving the film and characters. We feel like we are witnessing a snapshot in time, but the overall structure of the score makes it feel timeless as well.
If Beale Street Could Talk is a gorgeous and deeply moving experience. If you want to explore the depths of love in all its shapes and forms while also experiencing a powerful story, then allow this film to take hold of you. If Beale Street could talk, it would be speak this score. Nicholas Britell has managed to perfectly capture the essence of what makes us feel complete, while also exploring what happens when those things are ripped away from us. Britell and Barry Jenkins are a tremendous filmmaking force, and If Beale Street Could Talk is one of the most powerfully poignant and moving scores in recent memory.