This is a film I had been looking forward to for a while. Moonlight tells the tale of a troubled kid from a rough neighbourhood in Miami on a path of self-discovery. We see him at three stages in his life: Little, a scared kid; Chiron, an awkward and confused teen; and Black, an intimidating drug dealer.
Chiron goes his entire life feeling confused, alone, bullied and unsure of what he is supposed to be. With his drug addict mother and lack of a father, his home life was broken to begin with.
His skinny frame and quiet demeanour makes him a loner and a target for ridicule from most kids, except his only true friend Kevin with whom he has a confusing relationship as well. As a grownup we see him reinventing himself and becoming more assured of his role in society, even if it’s not what he wanted when he was younger. From a storytelling perspective, Chiron’s life is chronicled quite beautifully.
It’s tough to pick a stand out actor because all the principle actors pull off such strong performances. Mahershala Ali who plays Juan, a drug dealer who takes care of Little when his drug addict mother Paula (Naomie Harris) cannot. Opening his heart and his home to a kid whom he doesn’t know and connect with him as if he’s his son. Naomie Harris, usually someone who plays strong women, does a great job as a weak damaged mother who constantly uses her son to get money to sustain her high.
Then of course there are the three actors who portray Chiron throughout different stages of his life: Alex R. Hibbert as Little, Ashton Sanders as Chiron and Trevante Rhodes as Black. I read that the actors did not meet each other during production as director Barry Jenkins wanted them to build their own persona of Chiron, which for me is very evident in their portrayals but also completely necessary as Chiron had been a completely different person in each stage of his life.
The aesthetic of this film is beautiful. Camera movements are used in such a way that it really immerses you in the story by giving the audience the role of Chiron as well. Often throughout the film it is as if we are looking through the eyes of Chiron, which is really the best way to tell a story of this nature.
In conclusion, Moonlight is a wonderful story about a troubled person trying to find himself all throughout his life, and coming across challenges that ultimately urge him to make some really tough decisions and question exactly who he is. It is depicted in a really captivating way and boasts some top performances from actors who really should be getting some acclaim this awards season.
Catch the trailer for Moonlight below:
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