Moonlight

hero_moonlight-tiff-2016Moonlight is the quietest tour de force I’ve probably ever seen. Never have I rooted for a drug dealer in this way, and never have I sympathized so much with a kid who wanted to follow in that drug dealer’s footsteps. Moonlight is spectacular in its simplicity. It is also entirely different than the movie I expected.

That difference comes in its approach. This is a coming-of-age story focused on a likeable outsider named Chiron who has been dealt a terrible hand. His father is absent, his mother is barely there, and he’s a walking bully target. He’s called soft but he’s got an obvious inner strength, and I loved him right from the start. He didn’t have to say a word to get me on his side. Which is fortunate because he’s not much of a talker.

081816-celebs-janelle-monae-s-film-moonlightChiron’s adolescence is the subject of three tightly focused vignettes. It’s a wonderful storytelling choice that perfectly explains Chiron’s choices as he grows up, without having to engage in any exposition. Moonlight is brave in many ways but to me it’s the choice to let us figure things out for ourselves that makes this film great. It makes the journey more fulfilling, the experience more real, and greatly increases our empathy for Chiron. Moonlight helps us understand Chiron to a degree that I would not have thought possible. Regardless of your race, wealth, or sexual orientation, we are all a lot like Chiron.

Writer/director Barry Jenkins somehow enhances that commonality at every turn, and also finds beauty everywhere he takes us.  His efforts are supported by wonderful performances from top to bottom. moonlight_1-5-1-e1477472370758Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes each take remarkable turns as Chiron and the extent to which they feel like the same person is incredible. Mahershala Ali is not the only other actor deserving of mention (the supporting cast is consistently great) but for my money his performance as the aforementioned drug dealer shapes Chiron’s life and makes us understand his growth to a degree that is virtually unmatched in film.

Moonlight has been on my watch list for a long time. It was well worth the wait and deserves every bit of acclaim coming its way.  It’s perfect from start to finish. Go see it!

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28 thoughts on “Moonlight

    1. Sean Post author

      Thanks, that’s really nice to hear! It’s great that you are affected and engaged by what we write, because that interaction is what makes writing fun!

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    1. Sean Post author

      I had too and I still was blown away by it. It really is a phenomenal movie. In any other year it would be my favourite for Best Picture right now. La La Land is still my choice but the fact that Moonlight is such a strong #2 means it’s been a very good year!

      Liked by 1 person

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  1. Jay

    I felt teary-eyed just reading this. Such a quietly affecting film.
    It just won big at the Gotham Awards:
    -best feature
    -best screenplay
    -best ensemble
    -audience award

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  5. CineMuseFilms

    Great review; your opening line really says it all. For me its a cinematic tapestry of lyrical moments and finely wrought detail on a journey for self-identity; you rarely see performances and filming like this.
    »

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    1. Sean Post author

      Absolutely. This is a remarkable film. Barry Jenkins trusts his audience to draw their own conclusions, and the cast gives amazing performances from top to bottom.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  6. charsmoviereviews

    I just saw it in the theatre. It was absolutely mesmerizing and beautiful. As mentioned, there is a Chiron in all of us. We can all relate to discovering our identity in the face of adversity (albeit Chiron faced a huge amount, more than most). I am crossing my fingers that it will be nominated for many Oscars this year, as well as winning many!

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  10. Lloyd Marken

    Shit Sean I just wrote a review a Moonlight and it is nowhere as beautiful and concise as your work here. One of your best reviews, fantastic mate. You got right to the heart of what makes the film unique without giving anything away.

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