A timeless story of human self-discovery and connection, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.
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Three time periods - young adolescence, mid-teen and young adult - in the life of black-American Chiron is presented. When a child, Chiron lives with his single, crack addict mother Paula in a crime ridden neighborhood in Miami. Chiron is a shy, withdrawn child largely due to his small size and being neglected by his mother, who is more concerned about getting her fixes and satisfying her carnal needs than taking care of him. Because of these issues, Chiron is bullied, the slurs hurled at him which he doesn't understand beyond knowing that they are meant to be hurtful. Besides his same aged Cuban-American friend Kevin, Chiron is given what little guidance he has in life from a neighborhood drug dealer named Juan, who can see that he is neglected, and Juan's caring girlfriend Teresa, whose home acts as a sanctuary away from the bullies and away from Paula's abuse. With this childhood as a foundation, Chiron may have a predetermined path in life, one that will only be magnified in terms... Written by
To solely categorize this film as an examination of Chiron, a young African American who has to deal with being gay is accurate but inadequate. It wouldn't be inadequate to also categorize it as a movie about drug abuse, school bullying, and isolation. However, if someone were to ask me what MOONLIGHT is truly about I would say that, at it's core, it's a film about teaching a child how to swim, feeling the sand on your skin, and cooking a meal for an old friend.
Director Berry Jenkins is not afraid to be poetic, to guide his film away from conventional storytelling and offer his audience something to connect to in their own way. The way his camera roams around is sensually magnificent; he knows when to cut to the next shot and when to linger a few seconds longer. But above all else, his ability to add an extra texture to each scene is awe-inspiring; it's more than just style for the sake of style; it's essential to the movie's argument.
From the very first shot to the very last, MOONLIGHT is about as beautiful a movie as you're likely to see this year. The colours are rich and luminous; James Laxton's cinematography is visually immersive leaving you stranded inside the story of the film. It moves at a smooth, welcoming pace. The music, whether it be the classical or hip-hop selections as well as Nicholas Britell's subtle score, is perfect. And the performance are, well they're the cherry on top.
It's uncanny how similar the 3 actors, who played the kid, teenage, and adult versions of Chiron behaved and acted; you'd almost think it was the same actor who played all three roles. Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris are more deserving of Oscar nominations than just about anyone I've seen this year. They may be the standouts, but all the performances, ranging from the children to the adults, are so raw and powerful; a standing ovation for the casting director is in order.
But perhaps the thing about this movie that deserves the most acclaim is its open-endedness; it's fight against straightforward categorization and recap. MOONLIGHT so much more than a movie about growing up gay; it's about overcoming your adversities and, despite being a product of your environment, figuring out who you want to become. Identity takes time to discover, and that's something anyone can relate to.
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