🎄Matthew L. Brady🎄🎅❄️’s review published on Letterboxd:
LIFF30 2016 #4
People told me this was amazing. Actually a lot of people. But wow, nobody warned me this was going to be emotionally striking. Praising this movie for being powerful is just an understatement.
Moonlight is one of best character study movies I've seen this year. The directing, the writing, score, and especially the acting is what this movie so freaking brilliant.
Director Barry Jenkins shot this movie in a very different and unique way. And I say "unique" as how this movie was filmed in a shallow depth that made the whole thing pretty intriguing. I wouldn't say he's directing is complete perfectionist, as there's plenty of room for improvement. Even if you don't like the choices he picked for a scene, but keep in mind that this doesn't equal bad directing. Lets not go that far. You can see that there's talent and he got a lot out of fantastic performances from all the actors.
Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes all did a phenomenal job playing Chiron (the main character). Each of the actors builds on their character that the previous actor did. Despite the changes and the transformation, not once did you see a different person. There was never a moment where I didn't believe in a actor was giving a 100% their all or wasn't invested in the role. In my "A Monster Calls" review I said how great child actors are very rare in big budget movies, but not in indie. Several kid and teenage actors were all pretty fantastic in this, which is quite the accomplishment.
Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali were both outstanding in this movie. It's one of performances I've seen from them. Even through their screen time is shot as Hopkins was in "Silence of the Lambs". And that's kinda impressive. Both manages to give anything in a small matter of time. It's really mind blowing and a real challenge.
But what really surprised me the most was Nicolas Battelle beautiful violin score. Why this took me by surprise is because who's expecting a score like that from a movie that takes place in a gangster ghetto setting. This movie is more of a personal film of are main characters experience than anything else. So music like this fits perfectly and I'm glad it didn't go for a terrible R&B song for once.
The writing is just top-notch and if you're an inspired writer, you should take notes from this. This is how you write great characters. Nothing cartoonist or anything that's one-dimensional. All the character's feel fleshed out and so natural to the point I forgot it was acting. And the best thing I can say about the film is that isn't predicable. I honestly didn't know where the story was going.
When I called this a "character study film", that's because of the arks the main character goes through that leads to the next scene. It starts off with Chiron as a shy child living in a crime ridden neighborhood in Miami with his crack addict mother. This leads to him meeting Juan (Mahershala Ali), which leads to him taking a lot from him (appearance wise) when an adult. Him being bulled at school leads to him being buffed, strong, and confident so none can pick on him ever again. But at the same time, he's hiding himself even more by being something that he's not. He acts gangster and talks in a American slang that I bet he doesn't fully understand. You can say different arguments to this, but how I see it, he's just getting better at hiding of who he really is. It's are journey through life that defines us as human beings. Same goes to the rest of the characters. I don't know about you, but that's pretty upsetting.
You know, for awhile I was pretty close of giving "Moonlight" the perfect rating that I never thought would happen. But what stopped me is the little flaws. Some of the editing choices didn't really hit at times and lucky it didn't happen too often. I also notice some sound errors in a few parts, but it's only tiny.
Overall rating: "Moonlight" is an original film that stays away from following a predicable path. I thought this was absolutely mesmerizing and was quite the experience that I didn't expect.