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 Chiron is a shy, withdrawn child largely due to his small size and being neglected by his mother, who is more concerned about getting her fixes and satisfying her carnal needs than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
The light flashes in the transitions between chapters is actually an out of focus digital time-code from a camera slate. During filming the actors were sprayed with oil so their skin would shine on camera and the crew would hold the running slate against the lens to protect it from the sprays. Barry Jenkins saw the out of focus time-code on his view monitor and decided to add it to the film as the light flashes are literally showing time moving forward. See more »
When young Chiron eats as a guest he is seen holding his fork differently than the adult Chiron in the diner at the end of the movie. See more »
Do you sell drugs?
And my mama... she do drugs, right?
[Little gets up from the table and leaves. He never sees him again]
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In reality, "Little" happens (pun intended) but 'Moonlight' shines as a wonderful exposition of the complexity of emotions.
It is difficult to effectively display certain inner conflicts one may experience during the coming of age, but 'Moonlight' stunningly portrays three chapters in the life of a young, black boy and his struggle whilst growing up gay. Starting off with Little (Alex Hibbert); a boy who is taken under the wing of local drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali), followed by him as a teen, referred to as Chiron (Ashton Sanders), slowly uncovering and accepting his sexuality, then finally as a man (Trevante Rhodes), living his life begrudgingly with the burden of his troubled past. All this is then juxtaposed by a very difficult relationship with his mother, Paula, (Naomie Harris), falling in love with his best friend, and getting bullied consistently throughout school. The consequences of each prospect are dealt with astonishingly, somehow illustrating issues that have deep and dark implications with serenity and consideration. It simply is wonderful to watch.
Some have referred to this feature as "mundane". However, director Barry Jenkins displays the toughness of this boy's life with appropriate genuineness. Amongst it all, Jenkins' unquestionable artistic talent demonstrates a troubled soul who cannot grasp exactly what it is that makes him different with seamless realism. He does this through the subtle ocean imagery every time Chiron encounters something challenging, which ties the narrative together ingeniously. This, combined with an excellent screenplay by Jenkins, inspired by Tarell Alvin McCraney's play, 'In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue', results in a naturally flowing story that makes 'Moonlight' immensely powerful.
All three actors portray the main character with equal conviction, immersion and entrancing absorption; it certainly feels like an overarching story following one character, a hard task to truly pull off unless, like Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood', you use the same actor over an extended period. Ali's supporting role as the complicated, good-willed drug dealer, Juan, is indeed praiseworthy but it is Harris' performance that is most awe-inspiring. Certainly Oscar worthy, her marvellous display as Chiron's damaged, drug addicted mother is one that particularly stands out, despite the movie in itself being an incredible cinematic experience altogether. The extra layer of Juan being Paula's supplier adds further gravity to the situation, which is, to put it frankly, just one of many factors in the movie that pull delicately at your heartstrings. Jenkins successfully sustains the emotional attachment throughout, and has created an absolute serene picture; it is difficult to resist a rewatch.
Intricately and carefully crafted, 'Moonlight' truly does shine as a masterwork, conveying emotions in their utmost complexity as part of a story where, in reality, 'little' happens (pun intended). Barry Jenkins comes to the forefront as an emerging talent in directing, with the standard set so high, it is now intriguing to anticipate just what his next project, 'A Contract with God' (a three-part directed feature), will be like.
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