Should I watch If Beale Street Could Talk?
October 2, 2020 2:47 PM   Subscribe

If Beale Street Could Talk is one of the recent classics I've missed, but from what I've read and seen it seems like a melancholy, darker film in overall tone and I'm trying to stay away from such things for mental health reasons.

It's an important film. Have I misunderstood the content? Will I be OK watching it? Or is it something I can and should put off for later when I'm in a much better mood overall? I know that after all "it's only a movie" but some films, especially great films, can stick around and take up residence in your head afterwards and I'm not sure if I want to invite it in at the moment.
posted by feelinglistless to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hm, I don't think dark is the right word. It is a love story about two people going through tough times. It is gorgeous and lushly shot and I think the tone is hopeful, not melancholic. But it is inherently about a very tough subject (racism and false imprisonment), and there are at least three scenes of pretty intense interpersonal conflict, so that might be enough to skip it.
posted by muddgirl at 2:58 PM on October 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

Perhaps you could read the book (by James Baldwin) instead. I have yet to see the film but want to.
posted by elgee at 4:49 PM on October 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

Due to the non-linear storytelling, the entire film is melancholy. It's not like happy beautiful love story THEN tragedy, it's watching a beautiful love story with fingers over your eyes because you know what's going to happen next. I don't know that it will necessarily haunt your thoughts but I mean.. what happens in the story is terrible and you just feel awful for everyone involved. Totally fair if you don't want that kind of energy at the moment.
posted by acidic at 7:34 PM on October 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

I don't think it was a Great Film (TM) Of Groundbreaking Cinema, just a really good one, so if you want to put off watching a downer of a story you can get around to it eventually. I mean, Baldwin's story is an important work of fiction and the movie is significant in a lot of ways, but as a work of motion picture art it didn't seem all that different from a lot of small-to-mid-budget realist movies of the '90s and '00s, a genre that used to be very common (with white people) and has now passed on to Netflix. I enjoyed it, but I was not in as fragile a mood as you are right now, so take care of yourself OK? Maybe take elgee's advice and read it instead -- I haven't, but I thought the ending of the movie was cut too short and a novel could tell the story in full.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 7:58 PM on October 2, 2020

I agree it's not a happy movie either, if I gave that impression in my first comment!
posted by muddgirl at 8:05 PM on October 2, 2020

FWIW I started watching it then stopped partway through for similar reasons.
posted by kylej at 10:41 PM on October 2, 2020

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