Filmlistz’s review published on Letterboxd:
Moonlight is a deeply moving and profoundly introspective film that tackles themes of identity, sexuality, and the struggles of growing up in a challenging environment. Directed by Barry Jenkins, this masterpiece captivates audiences with its poetic storytelling, stunning cinematography, and exceptional performances.
The film is divided into three chapters, each focusing on a different stage in the life of its protagonist, Chiron, beautifully portrayed by three different actors: Alex Hibbert as the young Chiron, Ashton Sanders as the teenage Chiron, and Trevante Rhodes as the adult Chiron. This approach allows the audience to witness Chiron's transformation and inner conflicts throughout the years.
One of the most striking aspects of Moonlight is its cinematography. James Laxton's camerawork captures the beauty and harshness of Chiron's surroundings. From the vibrant colors of the Miami streets to the moonlit beaches, every frame feels meticulously crafted and visually stunning. The use of close-ups intensifies the emotional impact, allowing the audience to delve into the characters' thoughts and emotions.
The performances in Moonlight are exceptional across the board. The young actors, Alex Hibbert and Ashton Sanders, deliver raw and powerful performances, showcasing vulnerability and resilience in their portrayals of Chiron's younger years. Trevante Rhodes gives a hauntingly poignant performance as the adult Chiron, conveying the weight of his experiences and the longing for connection.
The supporting cast also shines, with Mahershala Ali giving a mesmerizing performance as Juan, a compassionate and complex father figure to Chiron. Naomie Harris delivers a heartbreaking portrayal of Chiron's mother, Paula, capturing the nuances of addiction and the impact it has on their relationship.
Moonlight's strength lies in its ability to address topics that are often overlooked or stigmatized in mainstream cinema. It explores Chiron's struggle with his sexual identity in a sensitive and honest manner, highlighting the complexity of human emotions and the societal pressures that can shape a person's journey of self-discovery.
Barry Jenkins' direction is masterful, allowing the story to unfold with a natural rhythm and pacing that gives room for contemplation. The screenplay, written by Jenkins and based on the play "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue" by Tarell Alvin McCraney, is filled with poignant dialogue and evocative moments that linger in the viewer's mind long after the film ends.
Overall, Moonlight is a profound cinematic experience that touches the soul. It challenges stereotypes, evokes empathy, and sheds light on the struggles faced by individuals searching for their identity and connection in a world that often marginalizes them. With its breathtaking visuals, outstanding performances, and emotional depth, Moonlight stands as a modern classic that deserves its place in film history.