Moonlight ★★★★½

Moonlight is a stunning film told in three acts about the life of a boy coming to terms with his identity. The three acts are: Little, Chiron, and Black; three names that were bestowed upon him throughout the film. In the first act he is a sullen young boy who rarely speaks and forms a connection with Juan (Mahershala Ali), a local crack dealer. In the second act he is a teenager who is frequently bullied at school and having to deal with his drug addicted mother (Naomie Harris), and in the third act he is an adult and has crafted a new identity for himself to hide his vulnerabilities.

It is a film that takes stereotypes and crushes them into smithereens; black people, gay people, drug addicts and dealers, etc, have often been the victims of gross simplification in cinema and here it is anything but. It is incredibly well written by writer/director Barry Jenkins, and there's so much empathy and compassion that is self evident on screen. All of the performances are quite amazing, and it's easy to forget that Chiron is played by three different people; his mannerisms and behaviour are consistent across all three and it's brilliant.

It is a beautiful looking film also with some of the best cinematography of 2016. There are a number of lovely visual metaphors and motifs which are interwoven into the film's fine tapestry that really raise it well above the average.

While Moonlight is an extraordinarily personal tale, there is a certain universality in its themes of coming of age, figuring out who you are, and simply trying to navigate the world around you and the cards that have been dealt. There's absolutely no doubt that it is going to be a major contender for the Oscars this year and it more than deserves it.

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