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'Moonlight' Review

November 23, 2016, 12:00 am

In a new work based on the previously unproduced screenplay In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney, director Barry Jenkins (Medicine for Melancholy) brings us a romantic drama fueled by self-discovery. A young boy grows up in Miami during the ’70s and ’80s while struggling to accept his identity. We tour through three significant chapters of Chiron’s life, from timid boy to deluded man, as played at various ages by newcomer Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders from Straight Outta Compton and Westworld’s Trevante Rhodes. Chiron must navigate a veritable minefield of adolescent strife, from a drug-addicted mother, an antihero crack dealer named Juan (Mahershala Ali) and his budding sexuality with lifelong friend Kevin (Jharrell Jerome and André Holland). Moonlight focuses on the paradoxical question of who you are and who you are expected to be, as Chiron learns he can be open with Kevin sans judgment and utilizes that presence as a safe space. Chiron uncomfortably flits through adulthood, defying the stereotypes of gay and black men, but eventually becoming a crack dealer running the inner city of Atlanta. When Chiron and Kevin reconnect in adulthood, however, Chiron must evaluate who he has become and who he has portrayed himself to be. The gritty plot is beautifully accompanied by ambient lighting and carefully composed scenes, further supporting the poignancy each character brings to the screen, and though Chiron’s voice is rarely heard, he expresses himself with his actions, whether violent or passionate. Moonlight thus becomes a cinematic masterpiece, a journey of love, loss and self-discovery that will leave viewers captivated by Chiron’s character long after the film is over.

Center for Contemporary Arts,
111 min


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