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REVIEW: Moonlight

There are movies out there that move you; they shake you to the core.

Moonlight revolves around Chiron, a young black boy within Miami who is struggling with his circumstances including his drug addicted mother, bullying at school, and trying to figure out his awakening personality. Told through three different yet defining chapters of his live, Chiron weaves throughout his story of self-discovery.

Moonlight is one of those movies that you feel with every fibre of your being.

moonlight-stillThe emotive resonance that echoes throughout Barry Jenkins is unparalleled by the peers surrounding the film. His narrative adaptation of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s shelve play ‘In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue’ is both a sensitive depiction of Chiron’s story whilst also elevating issues that surround him. By stripping back dialogue, Jenkins allows his cast and his camera to depict the feelings within the movie and the effect is simply glorious.

Not once is the dialogue amiss and in silence, the actors and the director are able to excavate so much. This is pure story-telling in cinema and outstanding in every shape and form.

Jenkins weaves his camera with palpable precision. He loves every single frame and not a single second is wasted. His glorious shots depict Miami in stark but softening light. Colours, sounds, sights, and imagery all are imbued in the majesty of Jenkins’ work. It’s natural and incandescent; burning with this gripping and absorbing power.

Mahershala Ali said of his Golden Globes win that, “any actor he worked with could be up here now,” and I’m inclined to agree although Ali’s performance, for the little runtime he has, his most memorable. As gangster Juan, he layers the drug dealer beyond the stereotype to the point where he becomes a believable mentor for Chiron. He senses Chiron, known as Little as a boy, is turning inward on himself and to help guide him to his own identity, becomes a mentor.

Open, honest, and caring, Ali embodies this all in the little screen time he has and it’s wonderful. Any of the males picked to play Chiron are completely invested in this story; Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, and Alex Hibbert portray the lead character in this silent but moving manner. An introverted sensitive man with intelligence and loneliness – with his quiet persona, each boy and man captures his spirit. There are scenes here of pure feeling due to their acting, it quakes throughout you. Simiarly, Andre Holland, Jharrel Jerome, and Jaden Piner as Kevin, an important figure in Chiron’s life, balance against Chiron’s shyness with this cocksure talkative yet ultimately loving nature.

Naomie Harris is indescribably great here: Despicable, obsessive, caring, addicted, aged, and selfish, as Paula, Harris graces us with the best of her work. The ensemble here work so alarmingly brilliant with one another, including Janelle Monáe as the caring Teresa, that the story elevates with stirring substance.

And while I may just be a lowly film critic, I implore members of the Academy to look beyond the show-pony antics of La La Land and back an underdog tale such as Moonlight. Comparatively to the eight over nominees, Moonlight is just a film that works on every level and wastes no seconds on screen. It is innovative filmmaking with echoes of beauty that course over a stunning two hours. It’s pure emotional depth that spirals within your core and coaxes goosebumps and tears. It’s humanity poured into evocative scenes and imaginative story-telling. Curled up in its perfection, Moonlight is unforgettable drama that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

One of the most impacting and important movies of all time, Moonlight is a triumph of independent filmmaking.

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Sarah Cook

The author Sarah Cook

Sarah Cook is a Film Journalist, Director, and Screenwriter. Founder at We Make Movies On Weekends. She will talk about Filth and James McAvoy. A lot.