Moonlight ★★★★★

There's something to the situational and moral complexity of Moonlight that feels fabricated for maximum dramatic impact but also unerringly true to life; all of us have our layers and contradictions that would become abundantly clear to anyone paying attention if only they were granted a grand and honest enough frame of reference.

The film gives us that by showing a young man named Chiron's life at three critical junctures: childhood, teen years, and early adulthood. The work of all three actors playing Chiron (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes) is exceptional, but I was especially impressed with the performances of Hibbert and Sanders. This script/story asks a lot of them, they had to cover some difficult, nuanced, and groundbreaking territory here and did so marvelously. Kudos to the casting director for finding three actors who not only could strongly resemble each other (as that now iconic poster so winningly demonstrates)  and convey similar mannerisms but could take the material to places that would be a challenge for any performer. Credit has to be given also to Mahershala Ali as Chiron's mentor Juan, who gives such a restrained yet strong performance. Ali makes it easy for us to understand why Juan had such a big impact on our protagonist despite his limited appearance in both Chiron's life and this film.

Perhaps most of all, I like the quiet, the thoughtfulness, the patience director Barry Jenkins mixes in with performances that are subtle but speak volumes, and showcased by beautiful lingering takes. We're shown the story of a life in just the right light, such that Moonlight paints a unique and dazzling picture I won't soon forget.

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