By: Movie Snurb (A Toast) –
Moonlight chronicles the life of Chiron, a young African-American male growing up in a harsh neighborhood around Miami raised only by his crack-addicted mother. The story is told through three chapters: Chiron’s at a young age, then when he is in high school, then when Chiron is well into adulthood. Chiron is gay and it seems everyone around him knows it, except Chiron. Through these chapters we watch Chiron a.k.a. Little a.k.a. Black grow and come to terms with who he is and where he belongs in this world. Moonlight is an extremely touching story and will resonate with audiences everywhere.
The acting in Moonlight is brilliant. Mahershala Ali (House of Cards) play Juan, a drug dealer who takes Chiron under his wing and essentially plays a father figure for Chiron. Ali plays Juan with such emotion and heart; he wants to be there for Chiron but he’s conflicted because his drugs feed Chiron’s mother’s addiction. It could be a very difficult role to pull off convincingly and make the audience feel for Juan, but Ali pulls it off perfectly. All three actors portraying Chiron do phenomenally; three different actors portraying the same character can be tricky. Chiron is a quiet complex character and in a lesser talented director’s hands this could’ve been a disaster. However, Barry Jenkins is able to convey how he wants Chiron portrayed to all three actors and it’s like watching a master at their craft work.
Not only is Jenkins’s directing masterful but his writing is just as good. What is so great about Jenkins’s writing is it’s not just about what is being said, but what is not being said. Jenkins is able to say so much more when there is no dialogue. When we see Chiron and Kevin sitting on the beach just staring at each other, we don’t need any dialogue. The character of Chiron reminds me of Mason in Boyhood. He is a quiet and observant character. Not much needs to be said to bring the character to life. The talent is conveying the writer/director’s vision for the character accurately to the actors. This is a special talent Jenkins posseses and I can’t wait to see what he does next.
The music is fantastic, both the score and the song selections for this film. Music is another facet you can use to tell your story and it’s another thing Jenkins uses expertly. All the songs used in the film work so perfectly, and they stick with you well after the film is done. The best use was “Hello Stranger” by Barbara Lewis. Chiron’s first and we come to find out only sexual experience is with his childhood friend Kevin. Kevin calls Chiron when they are adults after not seeing or speaking for nearly 10 years (when you watch the film you’ll know why). Chiron agrees to meet in the diner that Kevin cooks in. Kevin then puts on “Hello Stranger” and he and Chiron just have a moment looking at each other. It’s extremely touching and lets them say everything they couldn’t. It’s one of my favorite scenes in a film this year.
The cinematography is beautiful. They are really able to capture the vibrant colors of Miami, whether it’s the lights or the clothing or cars. Every shot in this film is calculated, and fits perfectly with the film. The up close shots of faces work because this is a character study. However, not only does Jenkins show how Chiron was shaped by the people in his life, but also by the environment. It’s all captured brilliant through the camera lens.
Moonlight isn’t a film that’ll blow you away. It’s not a film that will earn 500 million at the box office. However, Moonlight is a beautiful and quiet film. It will slowly crawl into your heart and make you feel emotions that you might not have felt in a long time, or even look at the world in a different light. Remember, don’t let a person’s perception dictate who you are. Only you know who you are. It’s a strong and beautiful message.
Moonlight is an exquisite film. It’s a film that is in the zeitgeist and couldn’t have come at a better time. With the “Oscars so White” controversy of the last couple years this film along with the new Academy member policies, this could be the film that we’ve all been waiting for. Honestly, if I were able to vote I would vote for Moonlight for Best Picture, Supporting Actor, Writing, Directing, and Cinematography. This is a film everyone needs to see.
Moonlight (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Chiron is picked on or beat up.
Take a Drink: every time you want to give Chiron a hug.
Do a Shot: whenever someone asks Chiron what’s wrong.
Do a Shot: when you find yourself enjoying the music.
Finish your Drink: when you realize you’re dealing with your emotions.