Writer: Barry Jenkins (screenplay), Tarell Alvin McCraney (story), Director: Barry Jenkins Run Time: 1h 51min, Full cast and crew.
Oscar contenders aren’t usually my thing. But I’m doing different things this year.
Moonlight is an interesting story as it’s about *spoiler* a black man coming to terms with being a homosexual black male, all while juggling the hardships that come from that and the hood around him.. What got me interested in the film was the level of talent brought on to tell this tale, and of course how it was told.
The first act is Chiron as a child. Early on one can tell that there was a lot of thought process in the early workings of the picture. That opening shot was masterfully done. I’m a sucker for continuous shots. Those are the best way to see every department, every aspect, of what makes any film, a work of art in my opinion. God bless whoever made the steadicam. One of the cool things about this film is how well the colour helps aid the story. As a child the world is very colorful. The acting in the first act is captivating. As “Little” (Chiron)doesn’t talk. You really have to watch how he moves and his facial expressions react to the world around him. The Young actor’s performance is very loud. One just has to be willing to see. That doesn’t mean he’s not aided in his performance by his Co-stars. This act, more than any I wish had gone on a bit longer to to give me a bit more exposition to what follows.
The second act is the most desaturated of all the acts.. rightfully. It has the feeling of being lost, emotionally, for the Chiron. He’s constantly facing the question “What kind of man does he want to be?” Which hits all men if not everyone (change man to human) at some point. And that question isn’t to be taken lightly. As the kids are older so is the tone. I do wish he had more of a guide but, in the same breath, it strengthens “Little” as an independent person to make the choices “uninfluenced”. The best scene in terms of love on screen, comes from Chiron & Kevin on that beach. Artistically, it’s one of the most powerful scenes I’ve seen in recent memory. The manner in which they captured that feeling of being high on some Mary J, and being with that person who loves to look out for you, that complete innocence of losing your virginity to someone you both truly love and admire, was outstanding. Again a tremendous team effort by the production team. That scene alone felt like how a good poem makes you feel. There was so much good about that scene. The act closes with both heart break and awe as you see how he decided to be the man he wanted to be. Never fear standing up for yourself (and your loved ones). That one action could mean the world for someone. I cheered a little.
The third act is adulthood and our Little Chiron isn’t so little now. I almost didn’t know who he was at first. Which was interesting. He took a pain, harboured it, and became a an alter ego all to bury it said pain. He didn’t just become big and tough, he was big and tough. He mimics the only male who has seemingly raised him. But everyone has a weak spot. His was Kevin. It’s been some time since high school and he instantly drops his big bad persona and reverts back to being Little. As the scene continues, the technique he uses to sheds his figurative armour is outstanding. When he confesses to only being with Kevin, the delivery of it hit me. Not in some kind of profound, inspired way. Rather the innocence of it. He easily could have been out there. His character was in the right place to do some more experimenting but he only had love for one person. In this day and age that loyalty is harder to get from romantic lovers. Muchless friends of even 3 years.
If you didn’t know the synopsis going in, you definitely get it after the two boys have their little wrestling match in act 1. It’s beautifully designed but it certainly makes one feel uneasy.. well me. But it reaffirms the point of the story as it’s loosely implied at this point. I can only imagine it did a great job in capturing what I’m sure many in the LGBTQ community go through early on, in their coming out stage. The scene out of context, comes off as two kids horsing around. If you look closely, you can tell the kids are just enjoying being goofy in front of a camera and are genuinely happy kids. So it’s shot in a smart way to hide that. But immediately after the fight. The look on Little‘s face is in the blissful climax feeling that I’m sure many know exactly what I mean. It made me feel uncomfortable. Was that by design? I have no idea. But I do think it was very effective visual storytelling. This is after all, an art medium.
The lack of Janelle Monae bothered me. She has a such a means of drawing attention toward herself on screen. Her character design was just grand. I really wanted to see more of her. the Story is better for the lack, but I wish she did more for Little &/or Chiron (act one or 2). I can admit to not knowing her music or really who she was prior. But I can confirm she’s well on my radar now. I really feel she’s a great actress and hope to see more of her. Aside from that, I feel act one’s cinematography was very spotty. A lot more shots felt out of focus unnecessarily. I’d be surprised if that was intended. Lastly the end shot… I wasn’t a fan. Maybe the reasoning flew over my head, but I didn’t like it.
Due to the nature of the script, it’s hard to select one key talent but the opening shot’s sequence deserve to be recognised for the every growing talent that is Mahershala Ali. He’s come a long way and I feel this was the film to put in in the public eye like never before.
Bottom line: It’s a great film. Tremendous art film, and deserve it’s praise.
- Overall rating of the movie: 8.9 out of 10,
- Cinematography: 7 out of 10,
- Editing: 9 out of 10,
- Audio: 9 out of 10,
- Acting: 10 out of 10,
Theatres or wait for the blu-ray? Bluray: it’s a cool film to talk about and to show friends. I’m mixed between it’s worth owning or to stream it if available, when available.