This unique drama tells the story of a young man coming of age in Miami whilst struggling with a dysfunctional home life, his mother’s addiction issues, acute bullying, and revelations about his sexual identity.
Chiron’s journey unfolds over three chapters, providing vignettes of his life as a painfully shy child (played by Alex Hibbert), a withdrawn teenager (Ashton Sanders) and a hardened adult (Trevante Rhodes).
Moonlight exposes a world many of us don’t often have the chance explore, or at least never so tenderly or earnestly. Following this gentle spirited character, we see how his path is shaped by inescapable circumstances and ingrained societal oppression. Even the most seemingly pedestrian of instances are portrayed with weight and value, and yet we never communicated more than ‘just enough’ information.
The heavy themes and stigmatised social issues evoked in this film are given buoyancy by the beauty of the way handles its characters and its all around masterful filmmaking. It is laced together with beautiful cinematography and an elusive soundtrack, which intuitively contrasts classical music with modern hip-hop.
The earnestness of this film is indebted to the validity of its sources. Writer/Director Barry Jenkins based the film on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Both Jenkins and McCraney grew up in the same Miami housing project, both of their mothers struggled with crack-cocaine addiction, and both of them discovered early on that they weren’t straight. Before this collaboration, they’d never met. Furthermore, Moonlight was filmed in the very same housing project it is based in, and its leading actors were all previously undiscovered.
It isn’t hard to see why Moonlight mesmerised its way into winning the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama and is stirring up Oscar buzz. But it is revolutionary that a drama like this, that digs far beyond tokenistic character representations, which doesn’t require any white characters to hang its African-American experience against, can win widespread acclaim. This is unmissable cinema. (AM)
In cinemas Jan 26.