Film Review – Moonlight (2016)
As we immerse ourselves further into the award season, here’s another movie that is deserving to be featured in the Oscars, Moonlight! The following review will be spoiler free. As always, be sure to comment at the bottom of the page with your own thoughts to get the conversation going!
Moonlight is directed by Barry Jenkins and stars Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevonte Rhodes all playing the role of Chiron at different points of his life. The story follows Chiron from his youth to adulthood as we see his upbringing in a very tough, urban neighborhood as he’s picked on by other local kids and deals with his drug addict mother. Throughout moments of his life, we see how Chiron deals with such hardships as he questions his sexuality in a cultural setting where his thoughts are very frowned upon by many people.
Moonlight was another one of those movies that got a ton of buzz at the major film festivals that has slowly expanded the amount of screens on which it’s showing. As I’m writing this review, Moonlight currently sits at a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is pretty unbelievable. Liked I mentioned in my review for The Edge of Seventeen (which you can view here), people can really gravitate towards a well made coming of age story. We all go through struggles in the early years of our lives, no matter where we grow up or what socioeconomic class we are born into as a child. Great depictions of people in film conquering these struggles or even just learning from their experiences can really resonate with an audience.
A movie like Moonlight can be very important culturally as well. The movie has an entirely black cast. There has definitely been a lot of outrage over the lack of recognition of predominantly black-casted movie at the Oscars with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite trending every late February. If a movie such as Moonlight were to be worthy of awards and be snubbed at the Oscars, it would mean another setback in a very worthy cause.
What I Liked
After viewing Moonlight, it has become abundantly clear that this film should get a ton of praise during the awards season. This may be one of the best movies of the year.
Every single performance in Moonlight is spot on. I kept looking for a moment or scene that would fall flat due to less than stellar acting, but I came up with absolutely nothing as the credits started rolling. Every actor is on the top of their game. Some notable standouts (other than the three actors who play Chiron) are Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris. Ali, who you may have seen in the Luke Cage Netflix series as Cornell Stokes, acts as a father figure to Chiron in his early years. Until Chiron learns of Juan’s (Ali) troubles, Juan is a steady hand in his tumultuous childhood. Ali’s performance is very subdued, yet very kind and nurturing.
What I Liked…Continued
Naomie Harris, on the other hand, is harrowing as Chiron’s drug addicted mother. Harris should definitely be considered for best supporting actress at the Oscars for her work. She’s incredibly despicable throughout the movie. You hate her for everything she does to Chiron. Her portrayal of such a character was so frightening that you could swear that she wasn’t even acting.
I will qualify my positive review by saying that Moonlight is not for every moviegoer. The film is purposely slow in its pacing and will bore some people. It takes it time in every scene, making sure to set up each character and give very realistic dialogue and motives to every person which to some may feel like it’s very slow and plodding.
In the same vein, the word describe Moonlight as a whole is most definitely realistic. You feel that as you watch the three acts of this movie that you were watching real life play out. There’s nothing “Hollywoodized” about Moonlight, it’s very raw and impactful in its realism. You feel as if you are a fly on the wall viewing someone grow up before your eyes.
What I Liked…Continued…Continued
Upon first leaving the theater, I felt myself somewhat letdown by Moonlight. I felt that the ending fell a little flat and that the movie didn’t live up to the hype that many critics has laid out for the rest of us. However, this movie stuck with me long after I left the theaters. The more I thought about this movie, the more I began to realize how good this movie actually is. Everything about this movie is so subtle that you can easily dismiss it if you don’t pay close attention. Every moment in this movie is pays off in the end and leads to a beautiful portrayal of one man’s difficulties in his urban setting.
As a whole, Moonlight is a quiet, beautiful film that explores the growth of a person unlike we’ve seen before. Moonlight gets an A+. This movie should receive the praise it deserves for tackling such poignant topics as sexuality and self-discovery within a group of people that does not get enough study in film.
Thanks for reading! Have you seen Moonlight? What are your thoughts on the movie? Comment to get the conversation started!
What should I review next? Whether it’s old or new, the choice is up to you!