The profound introduction prefaces a tender and stirring film. Tish (KiKi Layne) is a girl pushed into womanhood by her love for Fonny, a childhood friend. The circumstances of existing in a black body drive the generational drama yet expresses the presence of hope.
KiKi Layne is refreshing. She balances the innocence of Tish and the bravado of the responsibilities and circumstances for her growing family. Her narration is remarkable. Stephan James is commanding as Fonny. He invokes the horrors of being a black man, no matter the place, and the great optimism that exists. Regina King only elevates. She is compassionate and triumphant as Tish’s mother, Sharon. Colman Domingo is righteously warm as Joseph, Tish’s father. He has a solution with a smooth smile. Bryan Tyree Henry, Teyonnah Parris, Aujanue Ellis, Pedro Pascal, Diego Luna, Michael Beach, Ebony Obsidian, Dominique Thorne, Emily Rios, Finn Wittrock and Dave Franco are a part of the stellar ensemble, mostly for how they carry even the one scene they are in. Kayden Byrd, Jr. is exceptionally cute as Alonzo Jr.
Writer and Director Barry Jenkins breathes extraordinarily into this adaptation. I can see Barry’s influences with the distinction of his eye. Daniel (Bryan Tyree Henry) tells Fonny his fears of prison, a foreshadow to Fonny’s circumstances. At first I thought this scene could be cut out but it stands for something greater. The drinking and smoking is fashioned to the era. This film is unapologetically black. A picture of black love, honestly portrayed. Caroline Esselin crafts simplistic and sophisticated costumes. I need the sweaters Tish wears in the warm air. Cinematographer James Laxton captures the world with sharp freedom. Music Composer Nicholas Britell gives a symphony to every scene, even when the characters are talking.