Film Review: Moonlight (2016).


All Rights Reserved to the rightful owners. Moonlight Press Still. 2016.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – 4/5.

Author: Feargal Agard | Runtime: 111 min. | Director: Barry Jenkins | Year: 2016.

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Beautiful and touching story! Moonlight (2016) tells the chronicle of the childhood, adolescence, and adulthood of a young, African-American, gay man who grew up in a rough neighborhood in Miami, Florida.

Moonlight is a coming-of-age drama film that tells the story of a young African American boy, named Chiron Harris (Trevante Rhodes) throughout three stages of his life. His childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. During his childhood, Chiron (Alex Hibbert) is nicknamed ‘Little’ and grows up with his mother Paula (Naomie Harris) who is addicted to crack. Chiron is beaten and teased a lot by his peers as they believe him to be gay. It is then that he meets Juan (Mahershala Ali), a Cuban drug dealer who teaches him to swim, but also teaches him that it is okay to be gay and that he shouldn’t allow others to mock him. He spends a lot of time at Juan’s place who has a younger girlfriend named Teresa (Janelle Monáe). as a teenager, Chiron (Ashton Sanders) is still bullied at school, but he also meets Kevin (Jharrel Jerome) as they discuss the nickname that Kevin gave him when they were little they discover that they are into each other. Now a young adult and carrying the nickname ‘Black’, Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) has become a drug dealer himself and is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Around this time his mother tries to grow a better relationship with her son, but he unexpectedly also receives a call from Kevin. Chiron travels back to Miami to reunite with Kevin. Eager to find out what made Kevin call him and if what they felt for each other is still there.

Moonlight was written and directed by Barry Jenkins. It is based on the unpublished semi-autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney. The film has the interesting feature of having three different actors playing the main character throughout three different stages of the character’s life; his youth, adolescence, and early adult life. The film thematically explores the difficulties the main character faces with his identity and sexuality. Next to that, it also deals with the emotional and physical abuse that he had to endure while growing up. Moonlight premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on the 2nd of September 2016. It was an instant hit. After that, it won Best Motion Picture – Drama at the 74th Golden Globe Awards and it was nominated in five other categories. It also won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and with that also Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali (who is also considered the first Muslim to win an acting Oscar) and Best Adapted Screenplay for Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, with a total of eight nominations. And Moonlight is the first LGBTQ film and with an all-black cast to win the Oscar for Best Picture. Joi McMillon (together with co-editor Nat Sanders) who edited the film is the first black woman to be nominated for an editing Oscar. Moonlight stars Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris, and Mahershala Ali.

Overall the film has a very romanticized feel and tone when it comes to the imagery and the music. You experience that in the beautiful and colorful filmic shots of the beach, the neighborhood and the close-ups that focus on Chiron and Kevin being together. In the meantime, the music alternates from modern hip hop and R & B to beautiful classical music and Jazzy tunes. The actors fully embody their characters. Chiron played by three different characters feels consistent and all their performances cohesively connect together, making this journey of one person through different stages super authentic. The expressions and emotions that Chiron emits are strongly felt as we experience him as sad, withdrawn and at times happy. Mad at certain life experiences and struggling to find his path in life. Who he truly is and where he wants to be in life. In the end, it all culminates to giving himself over to what he truly is. A handsome gay man who has feelings for one of his childhood friends.

Moonlight is a great recommendation! It gives you great insight into the life of a person of color who had to deal with his sexuality, identity and a rough neighborhood that he had to grow up in. I understand that there are some voices out there who express that they felt that this particular type of story has already been explored throughout other films, but never has it been done in such a profound way and from the perspective from a person of color. This film will truly sweep you away as it tells a most moving story.

The film will be released in the Netherlands on the 26th of January 2017.

Genre: Drama | Languages: English | Dutch distributor: Splendid Film.

In regard to all pictures and trailer footage. All Rights Reserved to the rightful owners. Moonlight Press Still. 2016.

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