Moonlight (I) (2016)

R   |    |  Drama


Moonlight (2016) Poster

A chronicle of the childhood, adolescence and burgeoning adulthood of a young, African-American, gay man growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.

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7.4/10
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  • James Laxton and Ashton Sanders in Moonlight (2016)
  • Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney at an event for Moonlight (2016)
  • Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney at an event for Moonlight (2016)
  • Mahershala Ali and Alex R. Hibbert in Moonlight (2016)
  • Alex R. Hibbert and Jaden Piner in Moonlight (2016)
  • Katie Holmes and Barry Jenkins in Moonlight (2016)

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2 February 2017 | Michael_Elliott
Excellent Character Study with Fantastic Performances
Moonlight (2016)

**** (out of 4)

Extremely well-made and lyrical movie that deals with a young black man trying to survive in Miami while discovering who he is through a series of hard times. We first meet "Little" (Alex R. Hibbert) as a young kid who is discovered by a local drug dealer (Mahershala Ali) who tries to teach him some life lesson. We then meet him as a teenager (Ashton Sanders) where he is constantly being bullied while at the same time trying to learn his sexuality. Finally, in the third act, we meet him as an adult (Trevante Rhodes) and see how these earlier events have shaped his life.

MOONLIGHT is a fantastic character study and I'd argue that it's one of the most interesting ever made. I'm not saying it's one of the greatest films ever made but at the same time I would argue that it's one of the best directed and acted movies that I've seen in a very long time and the end result is something rather special. Yes, we've seen these coming of age dramas for countless decades now but this one here still manages to come across rather fresh and original.

What I loved most about the film were the performances by the three actors playing the same character at various stages of his life. A lot of movies try this and it's rare that all three are so believable in their roles that you really do feel as if you're watching one character throughout a period. All three actors really did seem to have studied each other or at least had such great direction where they were all acting the same way, with the same emotions and as the film went along you could see how the teenager was in the younger version and how these two versions played a major role on the adult.

The performances here are simply wonderful with Hibbert, Sanders and Rhodes delivering some of the finest performances of the year. The amount of emotional and realism they bring this character is something really breathtaking to watch. Ali is the real standout though as he plays a man we meet and who at first we don't know anything about him. We slowly learn about his character but the presence Ali brings to the role is something truly excellent to watch and he delivers a knock out performance. Janelle Monáe is also wonderful as his girlfriend as is Naomie Harris as the boy's mother.

Director Barry Jenkins does an extremely wonderful job at keeping the film moving along. There's a terrific visual style including the opening sequence, which just grabs you and pulls you into this world. MOONLIGHT is one of the better character studies out there and it certainly takes you on a fantastic voyage of a boy trying to learn to be himself and become a man.

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