If Beale Street Could Talk
Jenkins’ decision to let the original storyteller live and breathe throughout If Beale Street Can Talk is a wise one.
* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.
"...There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison." -- "Hamlet" Act 2, scene 2
If you've ever suffered from clinical depression, you know the experience is impossible to convey to someone who hasn't also gone through it. It doesn't make sense. It's like trying to describe why you love somebody. How do you explain a lack of feeling, or interest, or pleasure, that is both numbing and excruciatingly painful? How do you account for a disconnection with the past and any conception of a future? It's not "living in the moment" -- it's being stuck in a moment from which you can't imagine any escape -- not just the feeling that this asphyxiating near-deadness will go on forever, but that you can't imagine ever having felt any other way (even though, logically, you know that is not possible). You can remember feeling pleasure -- no, make that "having felt pleasure" -- but you have no memory of what it actually felt like.
One of the (many) reasons I probably connect so strongly with David Fincher's "Fight Club" (1999) is that, by capturing clinical depression more accurately than any other movie I've ever seen (though Laurent Cantet's "Time Out" and Eric Steel's "The Bridge" delve mighty deep into that abyss), it helped shake me out of the grips of a depression that was sucking me down at the time. I was the only person in the theater convulsed with laughter from beginning to end, because it was liberating, exhilarating, to see the truth of my own inner experience reflected back at me in its funhouse mirror. I recognized myself in the movie, relished the psychological acuteness of what I was seeing, felt its black absurdity resonate in my poor, chemically imbalanced noggin. From the very first images deep inside the human brain, I felt it could not be about anything else, even though I didn't know where it was going to go from there.
(Spoilers? Oh, yes.)