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Told in three parts, the story of a bullied boy ('Little") growing up
with a lack of love and guidance in the slums of Miami, his life as an
isolated, beleaguered teenager ("Chiron") and finally his persona and
relationships as a man ("Black" ).
Script, directing, acting, cinematography, music were all outstanding. The acting will blow you away.
The themes at play have rarely been given such a realistic rendering. You feel as if you are watching a real boy cope with the strange unfairness he finds at every turn. And you are grateful for the occasional kindnesses he receives. The audience I was with at Telluride LOVED it. I feel it is a masterpiece.
When a film comes out and you know next to nothing about it with a director you don't know and a cast of mostly unknowns and it blows you away like it did me. Then I know I'm confronted by something unique. In fact it was director/writer Martin Donovan who wrote about Moonlight, urging all his actors to run and see it. Thank you sir. The faces of those three young men who are just one did something to my brain and to my heart. The best group of actors I've seen in one single film in a long, long time. At the center of it all is love and what it means to be a man. Thank you Barry Jenkisns A revolutionary film made of truth and beauty.
Moonlight is one of the most beautifully told stories of this decade.
The camera work used in this film is like never before it has some of
the best camera work since Children of Men. The film has a brilliant
and beautiful way of using It's camera as a character. The cast is
incredible every single one of them giving layered and beautiful
performances there is not one bad or decent performance they're all
fantastic. The three talented actors that play Chiron are all equally
brilliant in their own ways playing the character of Chiron perfectly.
Mahershala Ali as the drug dealer is possibly the best performance in
the film he is perfect and Naomi Harris has a brilliant supporting
This film flairs with originality and a unique style of telling It's story. There are some extremely depressing parts in this film involving the second act which nearly made me tear up and there are some sad parts in the 1st and third act as well. I absolutely love the open wold atmosphere Moonlight creates which many films try to do but don't succeed where as Moonlight succeeds at sucking you into It's dark world. Some of the long tracking shots most notably the opening scene are filled with realism and beauty and it sucks you into the characters and the world. There are some parts where the film asks you what would you do If you where Chiron? It puts you in the place of Chiron which I found brilliant.
After watching this film if Barry Jenkins keeps this up then he will be known as one of the modern great directors. This film is not only the best film of the year It's one of the best films of this decade. It's a powerful beautiful and metaphorical film that is an absolute essential viewing for any film fan. This film truly floored me in pretty much every aspect. There aren't enough words I can say that'll do justice to this film so check it out at you're nearest theater you won't regret it. 10/10
This is a movie that deserves to be seen without knowing too much about
it. I want to be brief about my reaction to this film, but what I
really want is for you to know that this is a must-see film because it
showcases a story from characters not seen enough in film. It's an
important film not because it draws attention to race, but because it
reminds the audience that skin color shouldn't be a factor in
filmmaking (though there are exceptions, particularly with historical
First, I must applaud Berry Jenkins on his firm direction. He is not afraid to be poetic, to guide his film away from conventional storytelling and offers the audience to connect to the film in their own way. The film is not about a black man figuring out his sexuality, but about how identity takes time to discover, something almost (if not) everyone can relate to.
The performances, ranging from the children to the adults, are so raw and powerful. Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali are the standouts, both on the verge of receiving awards recognition. A standing ovation to the casting director!
The soundscape is particularly impressive. It knows when to draw in sound and when to take it away, what type of music is necessary in the particular scene (bravo to composer Nicholas Britell), when to bring the volume and bass up or down, and so on.
There is so much more to say about this film, but I want to leave it up to you to decide. And I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
This film grips you from the very beginning. Its not an easy film to
watch as it portrays the struggles many black men face growing up in
marginalized neighborhoods. Its survival everyday. And for the main
character, it becomes evident from the very beginning that his
struggles will be augmented due to the difficult predicament he was
But this film does have a human and universal story that everyone will be able to relate to. The message, no matter where you come from, you can always overcome your adversities and turns things around. There is always an opportunity waiting for you, With that said, there is the reality of the surrounding. You are the product of your environment. The film does bring this point home many times. This film has had Oscar buzz and it is definitely worthy of it. The performances were powerful and raw. If this film gets a chance, this could prove to be the little independent that could because its humanity is way beyond the scope of cinematic art any studio could possibly finance. This film has a vision. You will find the filmmaker does not relent or compromise what he's willing to say. Highly recommended.
Who are we? Are we who we want to be? Or are we the sum of what other
people wish we are? Even as I write these questions, I can feel how
portentous and pretentious these questions sound. But, believe me,
"Moonlight" manages to ask these questions and so much more in the
simplest and most profound ways without ever seeming portentous or
"Moonlight" is a coming of age story of a gay black man in Miami divided into three segments - childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Each segment focuses on our central character's relationship with characters that influence his decisions and character in life.
"Moonlight" shines because it beautifully balances its mesmerizing technical aspects and its understated (almost muted) characters. Director Barry Jenkins' makes sure that the innovative cinematography and swelling music add to the movie's characters and not just seem like additions to the movie. James Laxton utilizes shallow focus throughout 'Moonlight" to make the film look visually unique but with a purpose - to add to the protagonist's alienation from the environment. Jenkins' decision to utilize this style of cinematography, rather than seeming flashy, adds, even more depth to the protagonist of the film as the background visuals almost seem completely lost to the viewer. Therefore, the long takes and static shots of the camera mainly focus only on the protagonist. Jenkins' repeated use of the "Moonlight" colors - blue, light purple, and dark blue - add brilliantly to the central protagonist's ambition and moods. The aspect of "Moonlight" that creates the most emotional impact, however, is Nicholas Britell's quite brilliant (and under-rated) haunting piano and violin score. The score, like Jenkins' direction and Laxton's cinematography, is understated for the most part but swells exactly at right moments to.give an operatic feel to the movie that leads to some of the movie's most powerful moments. I was completely enthralled by the movie's use of music in its scenes of transition between the different segments and in its main themes for the first and third central character.
The screenplay, characters and performances in "Moonlight" are equally immersive as its music and visuals. Jenkins' screenplay is pretty much flawless. He structures the film beautifully with each segment following an established path that gives the central character in the movie a completely natural character arc. Jenkins' trust in visual storytelling and muted emotions is all the more impressive adding enormously to the character's emotions and allowing the little bits of dialogue to carry all the more weight. The three actors playing the central protagonist at different ages (Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes) are all terrific - emoting the loneliness of the central character brilliantly through their eyes and body language. All the supporting actors are integral here as each of them adds another layer to the movie and the central character's journey. André Holland and Mahershala Ali are especially memorable in their performances of character's that add immense humor and heart to the story.
The name to remember after "Moonlight" is Barry Jenkins. "Moonlight" is only Jenkins' second film as a director-writer and he truly seems to make strides with his directorial and writing abilities. Jenkins' subtle and understated direction, and ability to integrate visual panache with layered storytelling is truly masterful. The fact that Jenkins can invoke emotion and make the audience reflect on their lives is truly an achievement. I cannot wait to see his 2008 directorial debut ("Medicine for Melancholy") and future work.
I have seen "Moonlight" twice now. The first time I saw it, I thought it was an incredibly powerful story told beautifully. The second time I watched it, I was equally stunned by the subtle nuances of the film I had missed the first time. Both times I watched it, I came out of the theatre thinking about how events and people have influenced who I am now. That is the power the best of cinema possess and "Moonlight" is as perfect a film you are likely to see this year, so do not miss it!
"Moonlight" may very well be a breath of fresh air to others who are
tired to death of our culture's obsession with labeling and
categorizing everything in an attempt to understand it. If it can't be
easily categorized, it's either frightening and something to be opposed
to, or it's abnormal and therefore something to be marginalized.
The main conflict at the heart of "Moonlight," a beautiful movie about a young black man's coming of age in poor and drug-afflicted Miami, is our protagonist's inability to define himself in terms that his environment will allow. He doesn't fit into any of the categories available to him, so he sets out to force himself into one that seems like the best option. His name is Chiron, and the movie shows him to us at three stages of his life, portrayed by three different but wonderful actors. As a little boy, he struggles with loneliness and neglect thanks to a crack-addicted mom (played by Naomie Harris) and takes to the first person who offers to be a father figure to him. In a Dickensian twist, this person happens to be a drug dealer who nevertheless offers him sympathy and understanding not to be found anywhere else. The middle section depicts Chiron as a young man navigating his emerging homosexuality and the high school bullying that goes along with it. In the film's final and most breathtaking sequence, we follow Chiron as a man in his twenties to a reunion with a high school friend who gave him his first gay experience and whom he's never been able to completely move on from. This entire sequence is directed, written, and acted with utmost delicacy.
I can't think of a movie in recent memory that puts loneliness and anguish on screen more effectively than "Moonlight." It's a movie that asks us to see life from the perspective of a very specific individual but then draws universal conclusions from it that makes the superficial differences between him and the viewer (I'm not black, I'm not gay, I didn't grow up in a poor urban environment) melt away until you feel deep compassion and sympathy for a fellow human being who is doing what we all are -- navigating the complexities of living on this world and making the best of it we can.
To solely categorize this film as an examination of Chiron, a young
African American who has to deal with being gay is accurate but
inadequate. It wouldn't be inadequate to also categorize it as a movie
about drug abuse, school bullying, and isolation. However, if someone
were to ask me what MOONLIGHT is truly about I would say that, at it's
core, it's a film about teaching a child how to swim, feeling the sand
on your skin, and cooking a meal for an old friend.
Director Berry Jenkins is not afraid to be poetic, to guide his film away from conventional storytelling and offer his audience something to connect to in their own way. The way his camera roams around is sensually magnificent; he knows when to cut to the next shot and when to linger a few seconds longer. But above all else, his ability to add an extra texture to each scene is awe-inspiring; it's more than just style for the sake of style; it's essential to the movie's argument.
From the very first shot to the very last, MOONLIGHT is about as beautiful a movie as you're likely to see this year. The colours are rich and luminous; James Laxton's cinematography is visually immersive leaving you stranded inside the story of the film. It moves at a smooth, welcoming pace. The music, whether it be the classical or hip-hop selections as well as Nicholas Britell's subtle score, is perfect. And the performance are, well they're the cherry on top.
It's uncanny how similar the 3 actors, who played the kid, teenage, and adult versions of Chiron behaved and acted; you'd almost think it was the same actor who played all three roles. Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris are more deserving of Oscar nominations than just about anyone I've seen this year. They may be the standouts, but all the performances, ranging from the children to the adults, are so raw and powerful; a standing ovation for the casting director is in order.
But perhaps the thing about this movie that deserves the most acclaim is its open-endedness; it's fight against straightforward categorization and recap. MOONLIGHT so much more than a movie about growing up gay; it's about overcoming your adversities and, despite being a product of your environment, figuring out who you want to become. Identity takes time to discover, and that's something anyone can relate to.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The ending is more like a European film ending than an American one -
there isn't a nicely sewn up drawing together of the characters on
screen ... it's more left up to the viewer to come up with their own
I loved the ending - but I can see some people hating it !
The director was challenged in the London Film Festival screening as to whether he had considered another ending - but he said absolutely no way - this was the only ending there was ever going to be !
The very mixed London Film Festival audience loved the screening - I've never seen so much applause during the Q&A.
It really is a film with widespread appeal. Go and see it for yourself !
Barry Jenkins is a fascinating storyteller, and in large part because
of how he goes about being fascinated by his subject, how his camera
roams at times, and at others when he knows to cut between his
subjects. But most of all, he is a truly magnificent filmmaker because
of how he so deftly finds universal themes from a place and people that
is somewhat specific. This is a story about a boy who grows into a man
- I'm tempted to call it the 'better, bigger, blacker-er Boyhood',
though that's not totally the case - but he is also a boy growing up in
a largely black, Southern, lower (middle?) class neighborhood, where it
seems drugs are everywhere (including his own mother who is an addict)
and no one can be "soft". And if you're gay, a "f***ot?" Watch out.
I grew up in a town and in the public school system where it was predominantly black and brown and Hispanic, and it seemed like even having the slightest effeminate tendencies would make that one a subject for immediate ridicule (I was even picked on and I was pretty sure from a young age I wasn't gay, but was picked on so much for a moment almost though I was, it was that persistent). It may not be so different for white small towns or big cities or who knows what, but it's especially difficult for African-American men to come out. And yet if Moonlight was only about the gay issue then it would be interesting but not overly compelling. I think what Jenkins and his actors are communicating so strongly is being *so* isolated and without any options that it's about one's overall identity. Sex and attraction is a large component, but simply knowing who one is is a major struggle.
Jenkins has some very big, emotional scenes in this film, which is told in three parts, in large part coming from the dynamic between the boy, called "Little" but actual named Chiron, and his mother (Naomie Harries, I mean, god damn she is amazing in this). However, the predominant mood here is one of subtlety, of a vision that is fairly ambitious but is more about the interior life of his protagonist, this boy having to navigate how he should be in a society that leaves little options to get out and be something more than a drug dealer or the like (eventually, both he and another friend character, Kevin, wind up in jail in-between parts 2 and 3. This can be a difficult way to make someone interesting, but there's so much truth from these young actors, especially the boy playing Chrion in middle-school age, that your heart pours out even more because of the restraint, because of the shyness that is hiding back an entire interior life that's more than what we can see: one of pain and want.
The way Jenkins shoots everything gives characters and places an extra texture, how he'll show two people by a beach at night becoming closer together naturally over minutes that feel pregnant with meaning. To use the word 'sensitively drawn and performed' may be a cliché, but sensitive is the only way I can think to describe it. This isn't to say it's melodramatic, far from it; when we get the bullies that come at Chiron, it feels raw and immediate, like something could pop and violence could erupt at any moment. Sometimes, it seems, it does. A small piece of advice is given to the boy by the drug dealing father-figure (no one else in his life fills that role, and he doesn't realize at first he is a dealer): no one can tell you who you are, you have to figure that out for yourself.
When I first got out of the theater at the end, I was wondering if the ending was slightly abrupt, that things come to a conclusion somewhat not so much fast but there's something else. I think writing this review now, I was more touched and moved by the thought of 'I now want to see where this story goes, what happens now that Chrion has had this emotional breakthrough.' It's as subtle as many moments in this film, but there's a poetic side to it that is potent and you can almost touch it that it's so powerful. Moonlight is profound because it doesn't force anything, it lets those moments where things aren't said speak out loud, when characters share looks or someone looks away while another looks straight on at another person, or the movement of boys with one another, and you can fill in the gaps for yourself. It's also a look at the black experience that is both specific to that world but goes beyond that: if you've ever not known who you are in your life, if you've felt lost or abused or abandoned, this is a film for you.
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