This review was written by Anthony J Digioia. Follow him and his website here for more awesome reviews: SilverScreen Analysis
“Moonlight” is directed by Barry Jenkins and stars; Mahershala Ali, Trevante Rhodes, Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Naomie Harris and Janelle Monáe.
This story follows the life of a man from his childhood, through his middle years, and into adulthood, as he struggles to find his place in the world. Through stages of his life, he comes to grips with who he is, who people want him to be, and the man he wants to be, while trying to keep the world around him, from dictating who he is.
Some stories simply translate into fantastic films and this one was a classic example of just that. This was a thought-provoking portrait of a persons life, and how society around you can impact someones individuality, and it was told with excellent performances and as equally impactful dialogue.
The casting was fantastic, as were the performances from top-to-bottom. Mahershala Ali was excellent, as was Naomie Harris. Neither had massive amounts of screen-time to work with but it didn’t keep them from leaving a lasting imprint on the story-line. Ali was able to convey so much with simple mannerisms and it was more effective than simple dialogue. Naomie Harris was great as well as the drug riddled mother and pours herself into the role. She delivers a strong performances and hits every emotional mark the story needed from her character.
The performances of Trevante Rhodes, Alex R. Hibbert and Ashton Sanders were all amazing. They all play the same character through different age ranges yet they still all feel like the same person throughout the stages of life. While their age and appearance may change, and their personalities may have broadened a bit, they still carried over traits that connect them absolutely effectively as the same person and the result was captivating.
The direction of Barry Jenkins was impressive. It was artistic more than it was stylish. The camera movement and motion, as well as the angles and how Jenkins frames up the scenes were all effective in creating an intimate feel for a story the was just that, intimate. With this script you do not watch a man grow up, you are pulled in and grow up with him and with the camera techniques and lighting, the result was amazing.
The screenplay was amazing as well. The dialogue wasn’t flashy or at all overloaded, it was simple, precise and perfectly edited. There are not tons of useless lines that in the end do not matter. All the conversations, as simple as they may be, build the story, it felt like each line meant something, and it aided in this film locking my attention from start-to-finish as you literally take the journey of Chiron’s life with him.
The subject matter this film depicts it relevant in today’s society and how the character is forced to suppress his feelings, given the influences of his life were heartbreaking, mostly because it happens everyday. That is why films like these are needed to open peoples eyes to things they may be oblivious to. The fact this film was of high quality on so many levels only makes it something more people must watch.
Going in I expected to like it, didn’t know I would love it and I would recommend this film to anyone. The setting and tone do not prevent this film from reaching out to a wide range of demographics because the message in this story is something that people from all walks of life could benefit from seeing.