Moonlight, written and directed by Barry Jenkins, is a profound and multi-faceted film, set in a rough neighbourhood in Miami. The film explores self-growth and the fragility of human connection, as well as examining many complex issues such as race, sexuality, discrimination and drug addiction.
The film is split into three parts, tracking key stages of protagonist Chiron’s life - childhood, adolescence and adulthood. In part one we are introduced to a young Chiron (nicknamed ‘Little’ and portrayed by Alex Hibbert), a child struggling to find his place in the world. Chiron is a small and subdued child, who is consistently the target of bullies. Finding it difficult to connect with his drug-habituated mother, Chiron is cared for by a man named Juan and his partner Teresa. He also seeks solace in the company of his best friend, Kevin.
In part two the viewer meets teenage Chiron (played by Ashton Sanders). Things in his life have intensified. His mother’s drug use has escalated into a full-blown addiction, and their relationship has grown strained. Teresa has become a fill-in mother for Chiron, and her house becomes a sole refuge for Chiron as he navigates his way through his complicated family and school life. It is here we see Chiron grapple with his sexuality as he grows closer to Kevin.
It is in part 3 where this momentous film really hits its stride. We meet adult Chiron (acted brilliantly by Trevante Rhodes), a hardened version of his younger self. It is in this part of the chronology that we truly see consequences of past choices, and the way in which Chiron’s turbulent history has shaped him into the man he now is.
Moonlight is an insightful, poignant, and deeply personal film. The original musical score heightens the feelings of concern and compassion that the movie evokes. The immensely talented actors handle the challenging themes of the film exceptionally, and though the dialogue is impressive, often the most powerful moments in the film arise from the raw emotion in unspoken moments.
Moonlight has already received a plethora of award nominations (plus a win - it just took out the Golden Globe for Best Drama Motion Picture) and an abundance of rave reviews. It’s clear that this kind of movie doesn’t come along everyday - if you’re after a movie that will truly make you think and make you feel, Moonlight is for you.
Moonlight is out in cinemas January 26.
All images via Moonlight's IMDB page.