Jacob DiLandro | @spongejay1
Moonlight opens with a sequence in which one of the most charming characters in the entire film, Juan, finding a young Chiron, who goes by the nickname Little, in an abandon house. He walks in, looks at the boy, and asks if he wants to come with him to get food. This clear act of kindness, and subsequent friendship extended to Little is where the film’s charm begins to set in place, and it never lets up until the credits role.
Every character lights up the screen, whether it’s Naomie Harris’s aching portrayal of Little’s mother, Paula, or Janelle Monae as the sweet Teresa, who looks after Little whenever he feels like he can’t be at home. No one character stays for the entire film, but out of them all, the aforementioned Juan, played by Mahershala Ali, is the most charming, and stays with you the most when the movie is over.
Split into three acts, you almost wouldn’t realize it but the young boy, the teenager, and the older man that each act focuses on are all the same person. They may go by different names, but it’s all the same person, reflecting the idea of change as you grow older. Each actor who plays Little/Chiron/Black commands attention, with few words and a haunting stare.
The score and cinematography of the film strike an immediately unique viewpoint. There aren’t many films that feature a ghetto backdrop with classical music playing in the background. It not only works as a great score, but is another layer that shows just how out of touch Little/Chrion/Black feels in his own skin.
“Moonlight” is a difficult film to describe. It is filled with great performances, cinematography and music. The last thirty minutes are just wonderful in every aspect, and seeing Little/Chiron/Black grow as a black gay man is a wonderful journey to behold. But yet, saying all of that still feels like a disservice to the film itself.
Yes, the last thirty minutes are great, and the scene midway through the film involving a chair Chiron is just flat out great. But summary and description do not the film justice. It feels like it’s over in a heartbeat, but I could have easily jumped back in to experience more of this man’s life.
“Moonlight” is never over dramatic, or overly melancholy. It just feels real, with the right amount of sly smiles and sadness, and it drags you in so much that it feels like it’s over in a heartbeat. It’s just a beautiful film, that tells a compelling story, with great characters, and a bright, shining, beating heart at the center. 5/5
Photo Courtesy of A24 and Plan B Entertainment.