Moonlight broke ground in 2016 for proving that just about any great film could win an oscar without having to rely on the standard cinematic style that’s generally tied to a winning film. It’s a touching, serene, emotional, and brutally honest film that utilizes breathtaking cinematography and writing to its advantage.
For those who don’t know, Moonlight follows three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young black man who is growing up in Miami. His journey to manhood is guided by the kindness, support, and love of the community that helps raise him, amidst all of the conflict in between.
Virtually every movie fanatic or casual movie fan should watch Moonlight. Not only is it a staple for being a story about a gay Black man and his journey to adulthood, but for also being a lower-budget film without any A-list actors and is a genuinely remarkable piece of work.
You could praise many points with Moonlight, ranging from its directing, story, characterization, dialogue, cinematography, and message. Its dialogue especially stands out for being believable and not following the traditional method of a cinematic feel.
There aren’t moments that feel odd or unbelievable. It feels as if the story is unfolding in front of us, and the camera is there to observe. Anyone who experienced some sort of trauma growing up, be it poverty, bullying, or family issues, will have a sense of relatability to the film.
Three Main Acts Follow One Character
From a broader film perspective, Moonlight follows an interesting storytelling method being split into three main parts. The film follows Chiron as a child (Alex Hibbert), a teenager (Ashton Sanders), and an adult (Trevante Rhodes). Going with this route allows the audience to see Chiron develop as a character over time.
Even though all three points in Chiron’s life are played by different actors, they all do a fantastic job at fulfilling the role of the character. Even with Chiron changing in front of us, re-watching the film a second time allows us to pick up on certain things with the character we didn’t recognize the first time.
An Important Story
The story of Chiron is emotionally investing. A story regarding a gay character growing up in poverty, dealing with bullies, and his abusive mother is heavy enough, but what Moonlight does best is showcase an important story. It’s a story that isn’t told enough in cinema medium.
Gay characters aren’t utilized as a focal point in films and are often thought of as secondary to the overall plot. Moonlight shows that telling the story of a gay man who is also black growing up in poverty can still be a magnificent film. It took long enough for a film like Moonlight to come to life, but thankfully it’s in the ether now.
Director Barry Jenkins worked with James Laxton for the Cinematography of Moonlight, and wow, I’m glad he did. Every shot is riddled with beauty, emotion, and resemblance to what Chiron is going through. The ending is especially touching when Chiron admits to Kevin (André Holland) that he hasn’t been intimate with someone since their last encounter as teenagers.
A story that requires three sets of actors for one character is a challenging feat in and of itself. The casting of Moonlight couldn’t have been any better, with every actor being brilliant. From Mahershala Ali’s performance as Juan to Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, and Alex Hibbert as Chiron, it’s all brilliant. Moonlight is an exceptional film I implore you all to watch if you haven’t already.