Moonlight: Film Review

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When I first saw Moonlight in September, I was blown away but I thought it was too small to get awards recognition so I’m very happy that it has. It is one important and powerful coming-of-age type tale.

The film follows Chiron through three stages of his life which are marked by chapters titled by his name, or nickname, during that time period. Alex Hibbert plays young Chiron, known as “Little”, who befriends drug dealer Juan (Mahershela Ali) and his partner Teresa (Janelle Monae, in her feature debut), who help him out and give him food and shelter when his drug addict mother (Naomie Harris) fails to.

Next is high school age Chiron, played Ashton Saunders, who is bullied in school for being weak and experiences his first sexual encounter with his childhood friend Kevin (Jharrel Jerome). In the last chapter, Chiron (now Trevante Rhodes) goes by Black, and deals drugs and dresses like a rapper with bling and grills – and he reconnects with Kevin (Andre Holland) after years apart.

Director Barry Jenkins brings us the kind of movie that makes you marvel at how life works out and kinda comes full circle. You would never expect Chiron to deal drugs knowing how his mum was, but circumstances lead that to happen. He acts like he’s gangster but he’s still the timid kid inside and he’s struggling with his sexuality. All the boys’ performances were incredible but Rhodes’ made me so emotional. Seeing how affected he is by his past while trying to put on this cool front is just so sad. His performance was fantastic and the tension between him and Holland is so palpable, you could cut it with a knife.

With films of this nature, you never really know where it’s gonna go so I was shocked in some moments and it took turns I never expected. It is quite long considering it doesn’t have a massive plot but I loved it all. It’s so rich, heartbreaking and compelling. It also has a gritty and cheap feel, almost as if it’s a documentary. The camera jolts around as it follows the characters but I liked this realism. You felt closer to the characters, especially Chiron and Kevin. Monae makes an impressive debut and I cannot wait to see more acting work from her, and Harris was mean and gross and totally unlikeable as a drug addict so I applaud her for taking on such an ugly role.

I will be amazed if anyone can watch this without getting invested in Chiron’s journey. I certainly couldn’t. Moving stuff.

In cinemas Friday 17th February

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