This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
elgonzalez’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Moonlight conveys pure empathy. Through its use of the camera it captures every nuance of the internal struggle that Chiron faces. We see both the beauty of his surroundings, and the ugliness in the people that surround him. Every step in his carefully constructed story makes complete sense, as we are given snapshots of formative moments in his life. We see when he is shown kindness from strangers. We see when he breaks and decides to recreate himself. We see when he falls in love.
And all of the is conveyed with enough subtly in his performance and in the images we see that it is almost impossible avoid the power of the film's message. It is such an affecting portrait of the quest for self-identity, that it makes many other more direct films about dealing with societies persecution of gay people seem cartoonish in comparison. Its delicate take on heavy subject matter is even further propelled by its gorgeously understated performances, particularly Trevante Rhodes. Here Rhodes is able to both evolve and imitate the younger version's of Chiron's character, making the character's transition from vulnerable and lanky teenager to ripped drug dealer believable. Noamie Harris plays the part of a strung-out and abusive mother as wonderfully psychotic, and Mahershala Ali plays one of the most sympathetic dope dealers I've ever seen.
Simply put, Moonlight uses the power of cinema to deliver a story that has the power to change people's minds. It offers a glimpse into a world that most of us can scarcely imagine, but exists very near and right under our noses.
*PS- The transition from the 2nd to 3rd act has one of the most gratifying and stylish time jumps I have seen in long time.