Moonlight movie review: Barry Jenkins-directed film is a rare act, an experience to cherish
Director: Barry Jenkins
Moonlight is a rare act, a vision so exceptionally realised, something one comes across perhaps a few times in a decade.
Based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the film chronicles the life of Chiron, from childhood to adulthood, as he navigates and struggles with his identity, family, friendship and love to self-discovery.
The film, divided into three parts — Chiron as a child, a teenager and an adult — explores the contemporary African American life from a deeply personal point of view of a character who finds himself unable to fit in a world which is not the most welcoming of who he is.
With his fluid camera work and often dreamlike sequences, director Barry Jenkins does not waste a single frame. He treats the story with such sensitivity and with care, making the most wide-ranging subjects like Chiron's search for a father-figure, his discomfort with his surroundings and his loneliness in most personal of spaces resonate with one's own deepest experiences and memories.
Jenkins' brilliant vision is complemented on an equal scale by the performances which inhabit the characters unflinchingly. The three actors — Alex R Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes — who play the character of Chiron, complement each other flawlessly. Naomie Harris (Paula), who plays Chiron's mother; Mahershala Ali (Juan) and Janelle Monáe (Teresa), whom Chiron befriends and accepts as parental figures he so desperately seeks; André Holland (Kevin), Chiron's childhood friend and confidant, with whom he shares some of his most defining experiences, excel in every scene.
The film itself flows effortlessly between the three parts and all its characters with a fine visual balance of grit and urban beauty; the gorgeous use of lighting and colours, much to cinematographer James Laxton's credit. The film embraces its slow pace and not one scene feels misplaced or poorly judged.
The film also flaunts a varied soundtrack so seamlessly integrated, it feels like each track was designed for its designated scene.
It is excruciatingly difficult to find flaws in this one, that's how good it is. Go watch Moonlight the first chance you get, it's an experience you will cherish for some time to come.