Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Moonlight: Movie Review


Thrives in the unevenness of life.
Beautiful and brilliant at times, brutal and uncomfortably real at others, Moonlight is a tough watch. Thought-provoking for sure, but it’s entirely up to you to find a connection to these characters – or this character, only one is actually explored. The film is a three-part story. The first part is Little (young Chiron), a small African American kid bullied on a daily basis and raised by his crack-addicted mother, and even at that young age is searching for a better way of life. 2016

Directed by: Barry Jenkins

Screenplay by: Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney

Starring: Mahershala Ali, Trevante Rhodes

Part of the difficulty with Moonlight, and its acclaim, is that in a poor, inner-city neighbourhood in Miami, there’s no such thing as a better way of life. The only thing that gives Little and the audience a feeling of safety is when he meets a responsible adult who he can look up to as a role model. Sounds great, right? That would Juan (Mahershala Ali), a drug dealer. A nicer, married, more stable drug dealer than you would typically expect to meet. But it’s probably time to appreciate that Chiron’s life isn’t going to get better when he gets older.

The film takes startling jumps in time. There appears to be no rhyme or reason when the three parts begin and end, they just do, and now we’re forced to get used to a new character. The second part is teenager Chiron, definitely my favourite part. You can see the effect that Juan had on Little to help him grow up to be Chiron, but that’s still mostly under the surface as Chiron is still bullied, still is incompetently-raised by his crack-addicted mother, and still struggling to find his voice for who he is.
Trevante Rhodes and Andre Holland. Courtesy of Elevation Pictures.
However, Chiron finding his voice and figuring out who he is, is one of the best parts of the film. It was a brilliant character study. Chiron is a minority in so many aspects, that everything is a conflict to him, and we get to see how the various influences of his life are going to change his future. But just as we’ve gotten settled into that direction, we’re thrown into the future. The third part is Black (adult Chiron) and most aspects of who he is has been resolved, we just get to see the one final facet unfold. Perhaps not as interesting as teenage Chiron’s issues, but don’t worry, the film doesn’t end on a neat and tidy note.

Moonlight isn’t neat and tidy. It takes the audience out of their comfort zone, and unless you can find a connection to at least one of the Chiron’s, it’s going to be a relentless chore. Moonlight thrives in the unevenness of life, reflects that in its filmmaking, and leaves pretty much everything up to the viewer.
Best of 2016