Moonlight moved me. It really did.
It told a story not often seen in cinemas, and certainly not from the perspective of an African American male.
From writer and director Barry Jenkins, Moonlight takes us through three stages in the life of Chiron (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes) as he navigates growing up as the target of homophobic bullies, while dealing with his neglectful mother (Naomie Harris) and her worsening drug problem. The only solace he finds is in the home of Teresa (Janelle Monáe) and her drug dealer boyfriend Juan (Mahershala Ali), who shows a greater level of understanding towards Chiron.
Jenkins has shown true vision as a director, working from a script that by no means shies away from the hard stuff. It’s raw, real and emotive, and exactly the kind of material we need to see more of. Chiron’s journey is a heartbreaking watch, and there’s no clean ending to make you feel any easier. There’s no notion of watching a movie as much as a snapshot of real life, making Moonlight all the more impactful.
Hibbert, Sanders and Trevante we’re great choices to bring Chiron to life, possessing the innocence, intensity and soul of the character. Sanders is particularly impressive as the teenage Chiron, bringing to life an important turning point that bridges the gap between the young Chiron, and the hardened adult he becomes.
In case you were wondering if Mahershala Ali’s performance is worth the fuss, consider this a confirmation. Though his role is small, he makes the biggest impression on both the audience, and the boy we come to care about. Ali brings wisdom, compassion and allure to Juan, making damn sure that we remember him long after.
As Chiron’s drug addicted mother, Naomi’s Harris is a sensation. Unafraid to go to dark places, she is a convincing asset to the cast and a clear standout.
If Moonlight is playing in a cinema near you, I couldn’t recommend it enough. You’d be hard pressed to get something this special even once a year, but with your support, maybe Hollywood will get the picture.
Image: Roadshow Films