Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
Moonlight, after garnering great critical reception in its Festival run, now is ready to embraced by the Filmgoing public. It is a depiction of what its like to be a human, regardless of race and gender.
The Film follows a man through three stages in his life. The first beginning when he’s a child, the second as a teenager, and the third as the man he’s become. It’s a story about the human connection and the search everyone has with trying to find a place in the world. In the first act, Chiron (Alex Hibbert) is growing-up in a rough neighbourhood and watching his mother begin her crack addiction. In the second, Chiron (Ashton Sanders) is trying to figure out love and what it means because he’s never experienced love in his home life. And in the third act, Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) is a grown man who has grown-up only still to be searching for where he belongs.
The script, adapted from the play In Moonlight Black Boys Turn Blue, written by Tarell McCraney, is beautifully-crafted and brought to the screen masterfully through Jenkins’ direction. Jenkins takes care to develop each character’s story so even those that may seem to be somewhat stereotypical, in fact aren’t. This is further achieved by the perfect cast he has brought together.
Mahershala Ali, who plays a drug dealer, could have easily been the one-dimensional character we often see. Instead, Ali breaths empathy and humour into Juan that shows he is so much more than the profession he chose. Naomie Harris, who plays a crack addict mother, is the most stereotypical character in the Film. Yet, she isn’t stereotypical at all. You want her to get better, not only for her but for her son. You see the pain she feels and the love she has for him. But that love is being taken over by the addiction she has. Then there are the three actors who play Chiron. Hibbert handles sensitive topics with an understanding that is mystical. Sanders’ facial expressions display the harsh life of a teen in high shcool. Society’s projection of what young black males are, seeps through the school system and makes it near impossible for him to be who he really is. And Rhodes commands the screen with little words but in large ways through subtle action. He delivers one of the greatest breakout performance of the year.
Moonlight is a Film about a person’s search for love and connection to another human being. It challenges stereotypes surrounding race and gender asking some powerful questions. What does it mean to be masculine? What does it mean to be black? This Film doesn’t care what is means to be either. Because the most important thing is just being who you are. Regardless of what the media and society tells you that is.
Elevation Pictures release MOONLIGHT, in theatres Friday, October 28, 2016.