Thursday, December 1, 2016

[Review] Moonlight

"Who is you, Chiron?"

Barry Jenkins' Moonlight is a special film. Revolving around a young man's struggle to find himself in the thick atmosphere of a poverty-stricken Miami, this artful portrait is as sprawling as it is intimate, and as raw as it is technically marvelous. It's truly a transformative experience.

The story is divided into three distinct chapters, which all follow the life of Chiron, a quiet and scrawny kid who's constantly picked on by his peers. Unfortunately, he finds no solace at home because his mother (Naomie Harris) is a drug-addict. One day, he meets a supportive father-like figure named Juan (Mahershala Ali), who ironically makes his living as a drug kingpin. A complex and vicious cycle, to be sure. But Juan and his caring girlfriend (Janelle MonĂ¡e, terrific) practically begin to raise the boy themselves in their welcoming household. And from here, the film spans across Chiron's adolescence (Alex Hibbert), his high school stint (Ashton Sanders), and matured adulthood (Trevante Rhodes), all while he attempts to form his identity, battle with toxic masculinity, and ruminate on his sexuality.

The film exudes with life and bursts with heartbreak. The rarely-represented characters are fleshed out in a manner that isn't often witnessed like this on the big screen, and the performances are absolutely flawless all around. It'd be a crime to pick a standout in the cast, because they all shine in their own vital way. Everything is so richly detailed and beautifully captured amid the vibrant lighting, crisp editing, and stylized camerawork that frequently boasts 360-degree views, which breathes dimension into the scenes, while also creating a sense of the world spinning. The musical score flaunts piercing strings and somber piano keys, but it's really the deafening silences that have the most impact.

It's a film of defining moments, fateful connections, and memorable faces. A poetic character study. It's blue. It's black. It's glowing. It's Moonlight.

* 9/10 *

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1 comment:

  1. Good review! I just reviewed it. I'd like to see what he can do with someone else's script.