This film won three Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.
“The film begins with Chiron at age 10, picks up later in high school, and then skips forward to reveal the man he has become, thick-skinned and tough on the outside but still searching on the interior. Moonlight would have been ghettoized as a LGBTQ film had it been released a decade earlier, considering that dimension of his self-discovery. Today, no real category applies, and with any luck, this resonant film will connect with audiences in a more universal way”. (Variety)
Dir: Barry Jenkins, 111 mins, USA, 2016
“At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you’re going to be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you.”
Spoken by Mahershala Ali’s character, Juan
Moonlight is a ground breaking film in many ways. For example, it is the lowest budget movie ever to win Best Picture at the Oscars ($1.5m compared with La La Land’s $30.0m) and the first film with an LGBT theme to do so. But it also is ground breaking in other ways, for instance how it neatly sidesteps the usual stereotypes – stories of ultraviolence and misery in poor Black neighbourhoods, of drug-dealing and criminality, of good guys and bad guys. This is so much more subtle than that. Written and directed by Barry Jenkins, from Tarell Alvin McCraney’s unpublished semi-autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, the film explores the nature and meanings of manhood and masculinity, the complexities of identity and the role of love, intimacy and self-acceptance in deciding who we are going to be. Jenkins has said “I’ve never seen a Black man cook for another man in a film”, and his ability to provide a different view of Blackness, Maleness and Gayness from those usually on offer is one thing which makes this film so startlingly original.
This coming-of-age and coming-into-selfhood story is in triptych form, taking place over three ‘acts’ of Chiron’s life, each act taking the name by which he is known at the time. As a vulnerable child – unofficially adopted by Juan, a streetwise drug-dealer – he is ‘Little’. As a troubled and isolated teenager navigating the hard knocks of gangs, school and an addict mother, he is ‘Chiron’ and as an adult who has put on the armour of manhood to protect his deeper self, he is ‘Black’. Played with great strength by three different actors, we see Chiron’s development growing up in a poor Black neighbourhood of Miami which offers scenes of urban blight as bleak as any from The Wire. With no White characters in the cast, the film and the issues it deals with manage to be entirely universal. In focusing on eternal questions such as the importance of coming to an understanding of ourselves and of how tenderness and intimacy help us in doing this, Jenkins has taken the lives of people who are so often marginalised and ignored, and created a film which is emotionally wise and profoundly compassionate.
Acknowledgements: Anon, Wikipedia Otamere Guobadia, Dazed
“To describe Moonlight, Barry Jenkins’s second feature, as a movie about growing up poor, black and gay would be accurate enough. It would also not be wrong to call it a movie about drug abuse, mass incarceration and school violence. But those classifications are also inadequate, so much as to be downright misleading. It would be truer to the mood and spirit of this breathtaking film to say that it’s about teaching a child to swim, about cooking a meal for an old friend, about the feeling of sand on skin and the sound of waves on a darkened beach, about first kisses and lingering regrets”
A. O. Scott, The New York Times
“In these uncertain times, we need storytellers such as Jenkins more than ever – people who can turn a tale of conflict and hardship into a symphony of love and friendship that endures through all the pain. I doubt that I will see a better film than Moonlight this year”
Mark Kermode, The Observer
“Movies like Moonlight don’t win the Oscar for Best Picture. Until they do.”
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
Juan/Blue -Mahershala Ali
Paula – Naomie Harris
Teresa – Janelle Monae
Little – Alex R. Hibbert
Chiron – Ashton Sanders
Black – Trevante Rhodes
Director – Barry Jenkins
Producers -Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner et al.
Screenplay – Barry Jenkins
Cinematography – James Laxton
Original Music – Nicholas Britell
- Best film this season – thank you
- Great end-of- season film – thank you. Incredible cinematography, beautiful lighting and a great score. All of this with acting such as you rarely see in an American film. Astonishingly good
- An extra-ordinary accomplishment. Not only was it excellent urban drama but it was a unique character study, questioning the the concept of nature over nurture
- Brilliantly acted and written. The cinematography and music was superb and the tenderness that ran throughout was extra-ordinary
- Complex and disturbing tale of poor, black, gay America brilliantly told – superb
- Powerful and emotional. Sometimes difficult to identify who was whom in different sections of the film. The bullying and degradation of the mother contrasting with the lifestyle, and shame, of the drug dealer made a powerful story
- Very moving
- Well directed and acted but dialogue was a problem for me. Not my kind of film
- Good images but dialogue too difficult to follow
- A moving film – pity about the sound quality. I missed ~ 30% of the dialogue!
- Quality [sic] film, though I would have benefited from subtitles!
- Atmospheric and brilliantly acted – but it needed subtitles!
- Subtitles needed. I would have voted with PwC (re Best Picture). Not my type of film – one for the critics
- Too much dialogue not discernible or intelligible
- Please, a minimum of American films next season. I always need subtitles and their vocabulary is usually so impoverished.