Moonlight is Director Barry Jenkin’s second feature film. It centers around a boy growing up poor, black and struggling with his sexuality. Based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, Moonlight is a film that shows the reality of a life lived rough.
The film is done in three chapters in the life of Chiron, played as a young boy by Alex Hibbert, a teenager by Ashton Sanders and a grown man by Trevante Rhodes. Chiron struggles with his manhood while needing to be tough and brave in a place that doesn’t accept everyone as who they are.
Moonlight starts with a young Chiton running from school bullies and hiding out in a boarded up house. He is found by Juan, played by the brilliant Mahershala Ali. Juan takes Chiron home, feeds him, but doesn’t push him too hard to talk. We soon learn that Chiron doesn’t have much of a home life to go to. He finds some solace with his new father figure Juan. Juan is not exactly the pillar of society either, but is doing what he has to do to survive.
As an adolescent, we see Chiron fight school bullies and his continued struggle with his mother. He does have one friend that he can count on. His classmate, Kevin played by Jharrel Jerome. Chiron and Kevin have a romantic encounter on the beach that they both never forget.
Chapter 3 shows Chiron as an adult. A lot of time has passed. He works to repair his relationship with his mother, but Kevin is not far from his mind. The last 30 minutes of Moonlight is completely different than the rest of the film. It’s a slow burn reminding us of what could have been.
Director Barry Jenkins has a tendency to over direct. Some scenes look like he was playing around with the camera to see what would happen. i.e camera attached to a car door to follow it closing shut, lens flare that most directors would consider a mistake. The soundtrack is all over the place and doesn’t always fit the scene. The story he tells is strong enough to look past all of that. Making Moonlight one the best movies of the year.