Are Blacks Really Helpless Victims of Circumstance?

Kiki Layne and Stephan James in If Beale Street Could Talk. (Annapurna Pictures)
Barry Jenkins’s new movie If Beale Street Could Talk portrays America as effectively an apartheid regime in which blacks have no chance.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T he point seems elementary: Don’t build a drama around passive, hapless characters who amount to feathers on the winds of fate. Yet when it comes to portraying black folks, especially in movies aimed at the white art-house audience, the principle is often forgotten. Barry Jenkins, the director of one such film, Moonlight, has to be pleased with how that one turned out, given that it won him an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay while the movie itself won Best Picture. He takes the same tack in his follow-up, If Beale Street Could Talk.

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