Philip Carroll’s review published on Letterboxd:
"You're my only and I'm your only."
This really is a beautiful film about growing up and feeling like an outcast. In this case, it's about a boy growing up in a rough neighborhood who is constantly getting bullied in and out of school and lives with his mom who's a drug addict.
The film is formatted into 3 chapters. The main character as a boy, a teenager and an adult. All 3 actors are excellent, but I was thinking that this would have been a great movie to use the boyhood gimmick. I mean, the kid and teen version looked a lot alike but the adult, not so much. Especially, when the character is a scrawny person his whole life and then suddenly is this huge body builder. I'm not saying it's not possible, it just was a huge contrast. But the same personality and mannerisms were still there, and they did a great job at showing how he became like the man that was essentially his father figure as a kid. So I suppose that makes up for my minor criticism.
So the main character named Chiron, is essentially bullied his whole young life and called gay or faggot because he's small and sensitive. But then when he's a teenager, he has one encounter with his childhood best friend and so I guess it turns out he is gay. Which I was a little disappointed by. I mean, just because a kid is being called gay for being overly sensitive by bullies, doesn't mean he's actually gay. It just felt like he was pressured into it. Or maybe I'm just way out of line here. But to me, it never felt like he became his own person, just what society told him he was or what his sexual preference is.
Did I mention that this is an extremely well made film? The dialogue feels genuine. The cinematography is gorgeous. The acting from everyone is raw and real. The score is used sparingly. I don't remember noticing any music in most of the big dramatic moments. I did notice that every big life changing moment in Chiron's life happened on or near the beach. I suppose there is some symbolism there that I'm too dumb to figure out at the moment. And then it ended when it didn't quite feel like the story was over. Or maybe I just didn't want that final scene to end because it was so good. It wasn't a horrible ending by any means, I just felt like there was more to be said. I suppose that's a positive that the movie left me wanting more, at any rate.
I would definitely recommend this one. It can be slow at times and certain characters just seem to disappear from the story without a trace and are barely mentioned again, but aside from that, it's so good and will stay with you for days afterward.