No matter how valid a filmmaker’s intentions, I’m often suspicious of films with wholly good protagonists mainly because people rarely are – wholly – good and where else other than Art should we turn in pursuit of Truth? Wholly good characters, I feel, ring just a little unture. But this is how Barry Jenkins depicts the young lovers at the heart of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel, If Beale Street Could Talk, which he adapts and directs for screen; his third feature, and a much anticipated follow up to Moonlight, which after some awkwardness on the podium a few years ago nabbed Best Picture.

It concerns nineteen-year-old Tish Rivers (a star-making turn from Kiki Layne), who is newly pregnant with her first child. Her boyfriend, Alonzo ‘Fonny’ Hunt (Stephan James) is being charged for a crime he didn’t commit. Tish tells us in voice over, “I hope that nobody has ever had to look anybody they love through glass.”

This is Harlem, New York, 1974. But against the odds (i.e. the American judicial system) Tish and her family decide to pull together to prove Fonny’s innocence. Her plucky sister Ernestine (Teyonah Parris) finds the white lawyer (a brief Finn Wittrock hidden behind a pair of tortoiseshells) who will fight Fonny’s case. Tish’s father, Joseph (Colman Domingo), who heads out to cover legal bills lifting fur coats from dockland vans. Her mother, Sharon (Regina King), who travels to Porto Rico in a narrative cul-de-sac to confront a key witness.