Patience is a virtue when you are watching a film like Moonlight. It is so hard to sit through it at times because of how incredibly dialogue driven the script is. Nevertheless, it is an important film for our generation; a self-awareness film about soul-searching and self-discovery of the underprivileged, oppressed human, living in a society which is more often than not, cast aside in the real world. When humanity is too obsessed with the threat of Muslims and unqualified world leaders, Moonlight is able to focus on a culture that is not given a spotlight in mainstream media and turn it into something worth caring about.
Moonlight follows the life of Chiron (played by three different actors), a young black man who grows up in a difficult neighbourhood during 1980s Miami. Similar to many other coming of age films, Moonlight spans a journey of three generations, bringing us through Chiron’s childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Along the way, he forges relationships with interesting people, gets into trouble with some of them, and struggles to discover his identity and purpose as a person in this world. I liken it to be the ‘negro’ version of Boyhood in short.
Anchored by an extremely talented ensemble cast who gave passionate performances, they were a big part of why the audience can be so emotionally well-connected with the characters in Moonlight. Most impressive was Mahershala Ali as Juan, whose display oozes charisma and tenderness from the start to the end of his screen time. He is a stranger when he comes into Chiron’s life, but he does a great job at being a genuine person; that strong, caring fatherly figure Chiron so desperately needs to light up the path in his life. That vibe he exudes just makes you want to watch anything he is in right now and I have my money on Ali taking home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor come awards day.
While I have heard of people saying how flawless this movie is, I spotted out some plot holes which can come off as unimportant to some. Three times Moonlight jumps into another part of Chiron’s life and three times those jumps hold unanswered question which had the potential to make the story more complete (that’s not to say the story is any incoherent). All three timelines depicted a big change in Chiron’s life one way or another, and I thought it would be interesting to understand or see some of the actions Chiron did to catalyze those big transformations. And in that aspect, Moonlight was missing some of that crucial storytelling which could have integrated the timelines better.
This is a typical Oscar type of film which is socially self-aware and it is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. The film demands you to turn on your brain and think of the inconvenient truths and themes it possess. It doesn’t have any elements of thrill, suspense or any of the like in it to cater to the general audience. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who craves for that little rush of adrenaline in a film. I would, however, urge those who appreciate intimate character interactions that tell a profoundly heartfelt story to give it a watch.
Should you spend money on it? Yes
Directed by: Barry Jenkins
Screenplay by: Barry Jenkins
Based on: In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue
Starring: Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Alex Hibbert
Running time: 111 minutes