At once a vital portrait of contemporary African American life and an intensely personal and poetic meditation on identity, family, friendship, and love, MOONLIGHT is a groundbreaking piece of cinema that reverberates with deep compassion and universal truths.
Anchored by extraordinary performances from a tremendous ensemble cast, Barry Jenkins’s staggering, singular vision is profoundly moving in its portrayal of the moments, people, and unknowable forces that shape our lives and make us who we are.
“The Chairman” – Moonlight is a brilliant character exploration that is not often told, a young black man going through a sexual identity crisis whilst in the midst of abject poverty and with an abusive mother with a drug dependency. The depiction of the characters are not stereotypical “black” characters (like Tyler Perry movies) they have depth and 100% relatable. With all these topics at play and the fact that three different actors play the lead, the focus on subtle storytelling that Barry Jenkins has is beautiful.
The situations feel real, and it’s very hard to watch at times due to the way it makes the audience feel. “Chiron” has this awkward silence about him throughout each iteration. While growing as a character in different ways, this silence remains.
This is movie my favourite for Best Pictures and Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), maybe even Best Actress (Naomie Harris). You should make the effort to see Moonlight. Rating: 8.5/10
Caryn (Hooliguest) – There comes a rare time in a film watcher’s life where a film not only touches you, but reaches out and grabs you, and for me that was the experience I had with Moonlight. Let’s begin with the story, which tells us about Chiron as he struggles with his bullying, his relationship with his mother, his relationship with the streets, and his sexuality in a story which felt both familiar and utterly unique. The screenplay itself read like poetry as the story unfolded and we got more and more entranced in Chiron’s life and that of those around him.
Told in three parts, entitled ‘Little’, ‘Chiron’, and ‘Black’ which represents his childhood, teenage years, and adulthood. It is at its’ core, a coming-of-age story, a bildungsroman which depicts the circumstances and influences which made Chiron who he was. Inter-laced with the main story of Chiron, there is a romance of sorts between Chiron and his friend, Kevin, there is the problematic relationship he has with his mother and the mentorship that the local drug dealer, Juan has with him. It all knits together beautifully to form a masterpiece.
It’s not even just the screenplay and story that is excellent, the director Barry Jenkins seems to demand perfection from every aspect of the film – from the gorgeous cinematography (it is literal art on screen, every shot is beautifully lit and angled), to the editing, to the classically inspired score to the acting that seems to come almost naturally from the actors. Mahershala Ali seems to be one of the breakout actors of recent, with great roles in House of Cards, Luke Cage, Hidden Figures – and now Moonlight too. He is the front-runner for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and he is deserving of any and all accolades as every minute he was onscreen he demanded the audience’s attention. He has never shone as brightly as he has in his role. The other actors – Naomie Harris as the drug-addicted mom, Janelle Monae, Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes all do excellent jobs in creating this very real atmosphere.
I cannot recommend this film enough, it is not just a form of entertainment, it is an experience, something that will stick with you for years to come. It is iconic, it is original and it tells the type of story that we don’t usually see on-screen, and don’t expect to work, but it does. Barry Jenkins did a superb job on this film and if the gods were good it would be taking home all the accolades. Rating: 9/10
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