director Barry Jenkins
Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight, adapted from Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue”, has been topping a lot of 2016 awards and lists. And it’s easy to see why. It’s a very emotional tale of a young gay black man growing up on the streets of Miami, filmed with sincerity and featuring excellent performances particularly in the lead role.
Chiron’s story is told in three segments, each acted by a different actor, representing him at different ages. Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes embody Chiron as a child, a teen, and eventually a young adult. His friend Kevin ages along with him, played by Jaden Pine, Jharrel Jerome, and André Holland respectively. Jenkins maintains the characters through the three periods and acting duos, juxtaposed with the few elements (Chiron’s mother played by Naomie Harris) that are more fixed.
The poverty and drugs that set the stage of Chiron’s life are less harsh in his experience than his alienation his sexual identity brings him in his world. The rarity of kindness from a crack dealer, Juan (Mahershala Ali) and his girlfriend Teresa (Janelle Monáe) are the few lights in his bitter world. And though the film finds a release and form of happiness in the end, it’s a tale largely of sadness and isolation.
It’s a fine drama, whose value is in the stories and characters, people and lives who do not often find depiction on the big screen. Certainly not with the empathy and insight depicted here.
My kids thought it was good, as well.