- I read the novel a million years ago, and now I want to re-read it. James Baldwin gets smarter the more I rethink his legacy, and I’m guessing I’d have a much different take on it now.
- As part of what I don’t remember, I’m guessing that we spend a lot of time in the characters’ heads. The filmmaker – Barry Jenkins – spends a lot of time in extreme close-ups of the two main characters, moving back and forth between them in ways that enabled the actors to communicate mental states through facial expression. Those reactions are even more powerful as the camera moves between the two lovers in powerful ways.
- And make no bones about it – this is a love story, both between Tish and Fonny and within their families. The sacrifices that the family members take to try to get Fonny out of jail (on a charge for which he is clearly innocent but ends up agreeing to a plea on) are enormous, even if as Tish’s dad says “we have never had money, so why are we going to worry about that now?”
- The subtext of making this child a wanted, loved child is also powerful, and one that makes me wonder if – as in Moonlight – Jenkins is saying a bit of a screw you to white portrayals of black middle class life.
- I’m also fascinated by the portrayal of Fonny’s mom and sisters, people so desperate (I guess for white acceptance) that they turn their noses up at two kids who are obviously deeply in love, trying to survive despite a culture that tries to crush them at every turn. The representation of the good is not subtle in this film, and it’s interesting that this film (along with Black Panther, BlackKkKlansmen, and Sorry to Bother You) all did well at the box office – perhaps Hollywood’s avoidance of films that its execs don’t like doesn’t translate to actual attendance numbers.
- Finally, with the emphasis on voice in the films I mentioned in the last bullet, it’s nice to have a film that doesn’t have to dub over its characters speech patterns to make a point that white audiences hopefully get.