Moonlight (2016), Dir. Barry Jenkins

Moonlight (2016), Dir. Barry Jenkins
At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you’re going to be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you.
— Juan, Moonlight (2016)

Stars: Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, Alex Hibbert, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monae, Mahershala Ali, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Jaden Piner.
Director: Barry Jenkins
Screenplay: Barry Jenkins & Tarell McCraney

This type of of story always holds gold but Moonlight turns that gold into genuine art. We follow Chiron (played by Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, and Alex Hibbert) as he grows up in a world that does not understand him. He grows up in a world that is unfair, that is built on troubling foundations that gave him very little hope of escaping to become himself.

This kid, teenager, and adult must find his way of surviving in this world that continually tears him down for being different. His difference is mainly down to the fact that he grew up being small and scrawny along with being insecure, being shy and quiet, and being raised by his crack head mother. However in every part of his life there is that one person who can sees him for who he is, and usually before he figures that out himself.

This film is tremendous, it articulates what it is to be misunderstood, looked over, and terrified in how society will read and treat you. Chiron doesn't want to be seen as soft, but most times Chiron doesn't want to be seen.

The acting in this film is superb from Trevante, Ashton, and Alex but also from the supporting cast of Mahershala Ali (Juan), Janelle Monae (Teresa), André Holland (older Kevin), and Naomie Harris who plays his mom. They bring so much character to the screen even when their acting is so quiet. They have presence, they feel real and secure. It makes you feel that you could have a real conversation with these people, they are not just on the screen.

Chiron himself is so interesting, most of what we understand of him is from himself observing the world. He is so uncomfortable with himself that he tends to stand to the side and let the world happen, let people pry information out of him. He silently pleads for love, his soul while so hidden bleeds onto the screen. All three actors are able to express the same desire of acceptance and love.

And finally the direction, cinematography, editing, and score makes this film come to life. The use of light is electric as it warms the screen and makes the skin tones shine. It is radiant, you feel the heat in every shot to a point it is uncomfortable. The music holds you in a moment of sublime awe, and it all comes together with Jenkin's talents.

This film holds so much sorrow which many LGBTA+ youth can empathise with. How do you understand yourself when your identity is trapped so heavily within a society that does not understand even its own heteronormativity or masculinity? A powerhouse of a film that I know will only get better with every viewing.

★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2