Sally Jane Black’s review published on Letterboxd:
CW: race, references to homophobia and bullying
All three actors who play Chiron, and the three who play Kevin, are--by practice, by direction, by careful study, I would imagine--able to so expressively capture their respective movements, paces, facial expressions that it's impossible not to understand this character to some degree. These performances, especially of Chiron, carry so much detail, woven into the writing as well, that you feel his boundaries and his limitations. His silences seem like the center of the film.
It's important, I feel, in the breaking down of our stereotypical perceptions, that the response to those silences is not usually violence. So much empathy fills those spaces as people respond to those silences; so much tenderness pervades this film about people living amidst roughness. The story eschews Hollywood cliches, forgoes use of heavy-handed symbolism, and refuses to stop moving (to the point where the film literally loses focus at times). It's slice-of-life blended with character study, mixing coming-of-age with verite. By refusing to infuse, as Robert Jones points out, whitewashed narratives or pandering, it allows the aspects of the film that cross racial boundaries (parent-child relationships in all their complication, queer romance meeting homophobia and teen angst) to be felt by any audience that can relate while still speaking specifically to the experiences of these Black characters (Kevin makes a specific reference when discussing his time after Chiron left, and Juan's speech about his background stand out as explicit). Others note that this normalizes their experiences.
I don't think I can add more than those links say, though if it were several hours earlier, I might find more. The only other thought I want to share is that my heart exploded when the two boys first kissed. Just completely exploded.