Cert 15 119mins Stars 3
Director Barry Jenkins returns with another melancholy character-driven mood poem to sit alongside his 2016 Best Picture Oscar winner, Moonlight.
There is a standout score, tremendous use of colour and strong performances, but Jenkins also tests our patience with his rejection of dramatic storytelling.
KiKi Layne and Stephan James are endearingly sweet as young lovers, Tish and Fonny, but she is pregnant and he is prison after being wrongly accused of the rape of another woman.
And Regina King deservedly follows in the footsteps of Moonlight’s Naomie Harris by being Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actress, as Tish’s mother.
Possessing the articulate elegance of James Baldwin, on whose novel this is based, this is less a night out, more a distillation of the late 20th century African-American experience.
But it’s frustrating to watch as the dreamlike narrative flits back and forth through time, and consequently Beale St. failed to challenge for the top Oscars.