“Moonlight” stars Trevante Rhodes, Andre Holland, Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris, and Mahershala Ali. Released on October 21, 2016, the film chronicles the life of a young boy and his struggle to find himself.
The film is directed by Barry Jenkins, who also directed Medicine for Melancholy back in 2008. The first time I heard about this film was from a trailer that I saw while reviewing “Southside With You” with my mother. I didn’t know what it was about until I saw the final cut for myself. The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2016. Later on, during its theatrical run, it was met with incredible praise from critics and went on to win numerous awards. It also received ten Critics’ Choice Award nominations. I was struggling to find the perfect time for me to view the film at my cinema before it leaves and what better time for me to do that than at the very last day of its showing? Now that I finally got a chance to experience this possible “Oscar contender”, is it really as great as people said it was?
The film’s story is told through three phases of Chiron’s life, beginning with him as a young, shy boy all the way to him as a hardened adult. The world that he’s living in is pretty depressing, with plenty of obstacles treating Chiron like a piece of garbage. Not only does it display Chiron growing up and learning to deal with the world around him, but also about his companionship with Kevin. Barry Jenkins delivered a well-crafted way of describing life in the African-American community without any of the sappy moments. The film, on its own, made me feel bad for Chiron during his tough times as a young boy and as a teenager. The cast delivered some very strong performances, including Rhodes as the grown-up Chiron and Naomie Harris as Chiron’s abusive mother Paula. The other young actors who portrayed Chiron as a boy (Alex Hibbert) and as a teenager (Ashton Sanders) were also very talented in their respective roles. The cinematography was also handled very well in telling the story. If there’s one thing I should mention about this film, it’s that it’s a slow-moving film about growing up in the African-American community filled with drugs and mean people who like to treat others like trash. The pacing is fine for me, but I do feel that people who aren’t fond of slow films might find it a bit boring.
Overall, “Moonlight” is a remarkably-crafted story about life thanks to its strong cast, Barry Jenkins‘ masterful storytelling, and its impressive cinematography. Although slow at times, this film explores these types of themes with absolute care, making it one of the most interesting and thought-provoking films I’ve seen this year while also providing some tough competition during the Critics‘ Choice Awards. If it’s playing at a theater near you, I would strongly recommend it to you. Expect it to be on my Top Ten list soon.