Moonlight (2016)A review by Shlomoh Sherman
March 19, 2017
Director: Barry Jenkins
Writers: Barry Jenkins (screenplay), Tarell Alvin McCraney (story by)
Stars: Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Duan Sanderson
Plot: A chronicle of the childhood, adolescence and burgeoning adulthood of a young black man growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.
Plot Keywords: gay lead character - gay African American - homosexuality - homophobia
Taglines: This is the story of a lifetime.
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): Rated R for some sexuality, drug use, brief violence, and language throughout - See all certifications at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4975722/parentalguide?ref_=tt_stry_pg#certification
Release Date: November 18, 2016 (USA)
Filming Locations: Miami, Florida, USA
Budget: $1,500,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $402,075 (USA) (October 21, 2016)
Company Credits: Production Co: A24, Plan B Entertainment
Runtime: 111 min
Called The Most Anticipated Black Film of 2016 by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts [BAFTA 2017] .
Won 3 Oscars. Another 186 wins and 242 nominations. See all awards at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4975722/awards
Moonlight -- A timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami. Moonlight -- British actress Naomie Harris has been nominated for an Oscar for her role as a crack-addicted mother in the 2016 indie drama 'Moonlight.' "No Small Parts" takes a look at some other roles she's played in her career.
If you want my opinion, and you must want my opinion else you would be reading someone else's review.
My opinion is that MOONLIGHT is NOT the best movie of 2016. It is very slow moving [although the director might phrase it as "slow paced", and it is not a story that will appeal to most viewers in America. In a word, it's a dark and depressing tale literally about dark people living in a black slum in Miami; a tale about drug dealers, junkies, and homosexuals.
That being said, it is a film worth seeing; a story of down-trodden people striving to overcome the worst that life has dealt them, just to survive. It is well acted and well directed.
The story is divided into three time periods; the protagonist, Chiron as a child, then as a teen-ager, and finally as an adult.
Chiron is an abused child, abused by his drug addicted mother. At a time when he is beset by confusing emotions and is suffering deeply, his mother offers him no nurturing at all. So Chiron runs away from home and finds shelter in the backyard of the local drug dealer, Juan. Finding Chiron, Juan tries to find out who he is and where he lives. But Chiron refuses to speak. After a few days, under the emotional warmth that he receives from Juan's girl-friend, Teresa, Chiron tells her about his horrible home life. Juan feels sorry for the boy but realizes that aside from feeding Chiron and giving him some money, he has no other alternative than to bring the child back home to his mother.
As the film moves on, the audience learns that Chiron is gay. In a scene from the childhood sequence, Chiron asks Juan if he [Chiron] is a "fag". Juan asks Chiron if he knows what the word means but Chiron is not sure. Juan tells him, "It's a word that people use when they want to be mean to gay people."
The movie moves to the next sequence.., Chiron is now a high school teen. Hen has become a social outcast among his school peers. His only real friends are Juan and Teresa, who let him stay at their home from time to time when the pressure from his mother becomes too much. The mother is aware of Chiron's friendship with Juan and Teresa, and in a moment of desperation, she visits Juan and demands money from him. When Juan rebukes her, she, knowing that Juan has grown to love her child, taunts him about Chiron. Placing her hands on her hips and mincing, she says, "See how he stands? See how he walks?"
Kevin, his one school buddy, takes Chiron to the beach one night. As they smoke blunts, Kevin becomes amorous. Taking Chiron in his arms, he kisses him while manipulating his genitals. One assumes they now have a special bond. But the very next day in class, the school bully goads Kevin into punching Chiron in the face. Kevin is conflicted and doesn't want to do it but under peer pressure, and to prove that he is a man, he hits Chiron over and over when Chiron refuses to lie down. The next day, Chiron arrives in class late. He walks to the back of the room, and grabbing a chair by the legs, smashes the chair over the bully's head and back, unintentionally rendering him unconscious.
The final sequence shows us how Chiron has turned out as an adult man. It is the sequence in which resolutions must be reached; resolutions between Chiron and his mother and resolutions between him and Kevin. I will not divulge the events depicted in this final sequence but suffice to say, the audience will probably not be disappointed.
KUDOS to director and writer, Barry Jenkins, who has composed a difficult but timely tale of a young black man coming of age in a socially lower class culture in which homosexuality is frowned upon and in which an emotionally confused boy has to survive without the affection or support of his mother or peer group, and who has masterfully managed to present his story in an empathetic way.
KUDOS to Mahershala Ali as drug dealer, Juan, who carries much of the first half of the film.
KUDOS to Alex R. Hibbert as Chiron the child. He masterfully brings out the anger, resignation and pathos of a little person abused by his family and by his environment.
KUDOS to Ashton Sanders as teenage Chiron. He handles the transition of Chiron from victim to independent, self-assured man well.
KUDOS to Naomie Harris, in an emotionally challenging role of Paula, Chron's drug-addicted, self-absorbed mother. I hope we can see more of her in the near future. Naomie is a British actress but you would never know it if you are unfamiliar with her. She played voodoo witch Tia Dalma in the second and third Pirates Of The Caribbean films.
In his own January 2017 review, A_Different_Drummer offers the following praise:
Even MW Berger, who in his February, 2017 highly negative review, said:
My own final comment on Moonlight is that this may be a film which you have already decided not to see as originally I had decided the same. But I did see it to fullfill the request of my friend, Judy, while I was recently in New York City. If you are a sensitive soul and enjoy well done movies, you wont be disappointed.
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mahershala Ali ... Juan
Shariff Earp ... Terrence
Duan Sanderson ... Azu (as Duan 'Sandy' Sanderson)
Alex R. Hibbert ... Little (as Alex Hibbert)
Janelle Monáe ... Teresa
Naomie Harris ... Paula
Jaden Piner ... Kevin age 9
Herman 'Caheei McGloun ... Longshoreman (as Herman 'Caheej' McCloun)
Kamal Ani-Bellow ... Portable Boy 1
Keomi Givens ... Portable Boy 2
Eddie Blanchard ... Portable Boy 3
Rudi Goblen ... Gee
Ashton Sanders ... Chiron
Edson Jean ... Mr. Pierce
Patrick Decile ... Terrel
Herveline Moncion ... Samantha
Jharrel Jerome ... Kevin age 16
Fransley Hyppolite ... Pizzo
Jesus Mitchell ... Old School Guard
Larry Anderson ... Antwon
Tanisha Cidel ... Principal Williams
Trevante Rhodes ... Black
Stephon Bron ... Travis
André Holland ... Kevin
Don Seward ... Tip
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