Tʀᴀᴠɪs’s review published on Letterboxd:
For all Moonlight seemingly has to say in regards to sexuality, masculinity and race, it seriously lacks in it's conviction and execution. I can't help but feel the three part divide of this character's life omits his core journey and development, thus leaving us with a rather unsatisfying collection of scenes having very little emotional impact, each lasting a few days before jumping forward a decade. An example being Chiron's revelation/confession in the third act. Having been denied an insight into his intense internal struggles across his late teens to mid twenties it's all left for the audience to infer, which is not only an indolent method of storytelling but also an incoherent presentation of who the character of Chiron has developed into. I'm able comprehend how the narrative structure can be rationalised however was this really the strongest, most effective way to tell this story? Personally I'm uncertain.
Also in regards to Chiron’s development, is there enough personality under his suffering for an audience to connect with him on more than a victim-level? We’re lead to believe he’s more than his struggles but there’s never any evidence of this being true. Having your main character be a blank canvas to be painted only by the effects of their abuse is a really defective anchor for this film, especially since the very structure robs the audience of seeing the repercussions of his torment and the process in which it has shaped him.
The cinematography was pretty unpleasant too. The sweeping shots, particularly in the opening scenes, were distractingly unjustified and the continuous decision to frame the scenes out of focus served no purpose due to its inconsistency as a metaphor for the haze of childhood. The colours however were a delight, especially the electric neons, and I very much enjoyed the authentic locations and realistic ambience on the streets.
Obviously I'm in the minority here with my critiques. I'll possibly rewatch this once the hype has died down but that seems unlikely in the near future. I'm adding half a star to my rating because this is definitely a step forward for Oscar contenders in terms of the topics explored and the diverse cultural representation, but I really hope there are better films to come.
Moonlight's got nothing on Carol.