Moonlight ★★★

The right film for the right cultural moment. Beyond that, the first hour is a slog, not so much the style - though, when the boy is being bullied and opera comes on the soundtrack, the pathos would make Chaplin blush - but certainly the characters: Chiron is withdrawn and tormented, a blank slate crying out for the word Victim, while (despite the plaudits Mahershala Ali has been getting) the mentor figure is painfully one-dimensional, his drug-dealing being the one shade of grey; when the kid asks what "faggot" means and he says it's "a word used to make gay people feel bad" it sounds planted, like something a teacher would say (even something fake and movie-ish, like 'That's a word cowards use', might've been more convincing). Gets better in the third part, both because the hero grows more complicated - incidentally suggesting that the taciturnity of the strong silent macho type and the closeted gay man come from the same repressed place - and because it becomes clear that Jenkins is using Chiron's sexuality as a structuring metaphor, moving to a more intimate texture and sensual colours, away from the 'hard' objectivity of e.g. the opening wide-shot, as our hero (though still closeted) grows more familiar with who he is. By the end it's almost a love story, which of course fits the fable-like tone - and the cultural moment.

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