Cert: 15 Runtime: 111 mins Director: Barry Jenkins Cast: Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes, Jharrell Jerome, Andre Holland, Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali
You’re my only. I’m your only.
Moonlight the first best picture winner I didn’t watch before the Oscars. From what I gathered it was a mature version of Boyhood. Barry Jenkins is a filmmaker that I am unaware of but he is steamrolling in the industry now. So what is Moonlight about? Based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, Moonlight is a timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, which follows Chiron – a young black man – from childhood to adulthood as he finds his identity and sexuality in a rough neighbourhood of Miami in the 1980s. At once a vital portrait of contemporary African American life and an intensely personal and poetic meditation on identity, family, friendship, and love.
Barry Jenkins delivers up a very stylish, showy, tenderly delivered character piece about a man at three formative points in his life: as a young boy going by the nickname Little, as a fragile teenager going by his birth name, Chiron, and as a tough adult, going by the nickname Black. Chiron grows up in a tough Miami neighbourhood getting continually beat up for being soft, though he slowly becomes aware of the fact that this is because he’s gay. Each moment of the film explores him as he reaches a turning point and as he must choose who he is and who he will become. To give more details would be to spoil a movie that is beautifully structured and acted, and where the filmmakers trust the audience enough to pay attention to important bits of information that are dropped casually into conversations or in the background.
So the structure is very thin but it does enhance the emotion of each scene. It does baffle me slightly that it won adapted screenplay. Since the actors really structure each scene rather than the context. The cinematography is well crafted shot tenderly, such beautiful camera-work that is attention pulling but not overly showy and serves the story well. Mahershala Ali give such a tender performance that was worthy of his win. Naomie Harris was a slight miss for me, she didn’t have the impact I expected. But with only three days of filming I guess that is what you get. Each incarnation of Chiron is embodied by a different actor and all three are incredibly strong, embodying different bits of Chiron as he evolves but somehow keeping the core of who he is consistent. A beautifully romantic movie through and through about characters and people whose lives are usually not filmed with such respect and tenderness.