Moonlight ★★★★★

A truly resonating piece of cinema!

Directed to perfection by Barry Jenkins, Moonlight is a penetrating microscopic look at an African-American boy’s search for his identity. The film follows three important stages of Chiron’s life: his childhood, formative teenage years, and adulthood. Each section is cleverly titled after his three nicknames given by different people who play crucial roles in his life. He’s Little, Chiron, and Black. He’s a victim, a friend, a son, a lover, a gay man, and more. The film’s conclusion, or lack thereof, however, might suggest that Chiron will always be a work in progress.

Moonlight is told with such authenticity that it makes your heart ache at times. It brings to fore the harsh reality of a marginalized figure who tries dealing with school bullying, his drug-addicted mom, and sexual frustration. The film does a great job exploring how traumatic childhood experiences can sear into his mind and form the person that he later becomes. Only then that he can look back and wonder whether he’s become someone the society expects him to be or someone he really wants to be.

The stripped-down storytelling that Jenkins opts for effectively adds to the sense of purported realism. This is the film that is just as easy to admire as to like. It’s emotionally restrained, yet it’s also filled to the brim with heart.

In addition to the strong visual aesthetics of Jenkins and cinematographer James Laxton, Moonlight also touts strong ensemble cast. Mahershala Ali is great as a mysterious drug dealer who saves Chiron’s from his tormented childhood, but I actually prefer the supporting performances of Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes, who play the teenage and adult Chiron, respectively. Naomie Harris is brilliant playing the abusive mom.

I hope Moonlight does well at the Oscars. I don’t expect it to win Best Picture, but it needs to win something other than Best Supporting Actor.

That's a beautiful poster too.

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