Three time periods - young adolescence, mid-teen and young adult - in the life of black-American Chiron is presented. When a child, Chiron lives with his single, crack addict mother Paula in a crime ridden neighborhood in Miami. Chiron is a shy, withdrawn child largely due to his small size and being neglected by his mother, who is more concerned about getting her fixes and satisfying her carnal needs than taking care of him. Because of these issues, Chiron is bullied, the slurs hurled at him which he doesn't understand beyond knowing that they are meant to be hurtful. Besides his same aged Cuban-American friend Kevin, Chiron is given what little guidance he has in life from a neighborhood drug dealer named Juan, who can see that he is neglected, and Juan's caring girlfriend Teresa, whose home acts as a sanctuary away from the bullies and away from Paula's abuse. With this childhood as a foundation, Chiron may have a predetermined path in life, one that will only be magnified in terms...Written by
In an interview, Barry Jenkins said that the three actors who play Chiron never met during production. He wanted each of them to build their own persona of Chiron during their respective segments, with no influence from the other portrayals. The same technique was used with the actors who play Kevin. See more »
When Chiron and his mother are in their house and she asks him for money, his backpack is placed at his front, strapped over both shoulders. However, in several shots where he is seen from the back, there is no strap over his left shoulder. At one point he switches the backpack from his front to his back, but right after that, when his mother starts struggling with him, the backpack is at his front again. See more »
Excellent Character Study with Fantastic Performances
**** (out of 4)
Extremely well-made and lyrical movie that deals with a young black man trying to survive in Miami while discovering who he is through a series of hard times. We first meet "Little" (Alex R. Hibbert) as a young kid who is discovered by a local drug dealer (Mahershala Ali) who tries to teach him some life lesson. We then meet him as a teenager (Ashton Sanders) where he is constantly being bullied while at the same time trying to learn his sexuality. Finally, in the third act, we meet him as an adult (Trevante Rhodes) and see how these earlier events have shaped his life.
MOONLIGHT is a fantastic character study and I'd argue that it's one of the most interesting ever made. I'm not saying it's one of the greatest films ever made but at the same time I would argue that it's one of the best directed and acted movies that I've seen in a very long time and the end result is something rather special. Yes, we've seen these coming of age dramas for countless decades now but this one here still manages to come across rather fresh and original.
What I loved most about the film were the performances by the three actors playing the same character at various stages of his life. A lot of movies try this and it's rare that all three are so believable in their roles that you really do feel as if you're watching one character throughout a period. All three actors really did seem to have studied each other or at least had such great direction where they were all acting the same way, with the same emotions and as the film went along you could see how the teenager was in the younger version and how these two versions played a major role on the adult.
The performances here are simply wonderful with Hibbert, Sanders and Rhodes delivering some of the finest performances of the year. The amount of emotional and realism they bring this character is something really breathtaking to watch. Ali is the real standout though as he plays a man we meet and who at first we don't know anything about him. We slowly learn about his character but the presence Ali brings to the role is something truly excellent to watch and he delivers a knock out performance. Janelle Monáe is also wonderful as his girlfriend as is Naomie Harris as the boy's mother.
Director Barry Jenkins does an extremely wonderful job at keeping the film moving along. There's a terrific visual style including the opening sequence, which just grabs you and pulls you into this world. MOONLIGHT is one of the better character studies out there and it certainly takes you on a fantastic voyage of a boy trying to learn to be himself and become a man.
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