A touching, raw and moving story.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you would have at least heard of this film, mainly in connection with the Oscars’ slip up (which I’m sure we don’t need to get into). It’s been voted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as the best feature of the year, but just how good is Moonlight?
Now, of course, the Academy’s opinion is just that, their opinion, so it’s not a fact that this is the best film. However, it is brilliantly moving and packed with emotion so it’s understandable to see why the Academy has chosen Moonlight.
The film studies the life of Chiron, an African-American, at three time-periods in his life, young adolescence, mid-teen and young adult. It’s a coming of age tale surrounding topics of sexuality, ethnicity, addiction and life on the streets, in the rough areas of America such as Liberty City, Miami (the main location of the film).
In fact, a lot of the film’s plot points parallel the writer’s, Tarell Alvin McCraney, and director’s, Barry Jenkins, reality whilst they grew up in Liberty City, which explains why it feels so raw and emotional, it’s reality. This isn’t an action heavy film. It’s not a comedy, it’s not a romantic film, but rather it’s drenched in reality and emotion that is often hard for some audience to grasp or enjoy, a strong reason for the varying receptions the film has received depending on those persons and their circumstances.
The performances from all three actors who portray Chiron (Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes) all produce very good and emotional performances, particularly Ashton who really shows the struggles of dealing with his homosexuality at such a confusing and tough age particularly, with bullying as well.
Mahershala Ali also provides a great performance as Juan, another to add to his ever-growing list of strong portrayals. He’s an engaging and caring father-figure to the young Chiron who teaches him important life lessons. It’s easy to understand why he received the Oscar for best supporting actor.
It’s a very deep film, built on a lot of real emotion, experiences, troubles and for this reason it feels as though some people may not connect with it, or sympathise with it, as others do. It’s certainly going to divide opinion as to how good the film is depending on the viewers’ appreciation of the subject matter and the craft of film making, which is why it’s understandable that it received the Oscar for best film.
It may not be the best film of the year, in my own opinion, but it’s certainly one of the most important.