Review: Moonlight (No Spoilers)

By Angel

Movie Description: 

“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.”

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  • Experience 

I was beyond eager to see this film right away since I kept hearing so much praise for it. I had never seen a trailer for Moonlight and I didn’t want to learn anything more. These experiences are always special for me because it’s rare nowadays that we don’t have marketing campaigns shove multiple trailers containing vital scenes down our throats. It’s always refreshing to have a spontaneous viewing like this where I have no idea what to expect. This was easily one of the greatest experiences I’ve had at the theater this year with the love of my life. I watched a masterpiece, make sure to treat yourself with this film, it’s beautiful.

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  • Story

I loved the story! Here’s the best way I can describe this film without spoiling; it’s an arthouse film set in the ghetto centering on a person growing up black and gay which was fascinating. The way this narrative was told was unique because it was broken up into three segments giving us three pivotal points of the main character’s life. It was also interesting that most of this movie focused on listening and observations rather than events that happened.

It didn’t feel like I was watching propaganda, I was watching an amazing story being expressed with raw emotional depth. There wasn’t one frame or scene out of place. I really loved how noticeable the colors were, I figured it was a reflection of the main character because these colors were exaggerated and present throughout the entire story. Also, the cinematography and editing were flawless. Before you go in, don’t expect an EPIC romance story like Brokeback Mountain, the narrative is much thinner, but still brilliant.

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  • Performances

Honestly, every performance was a standout. The one that impressed me most was Alex R. Hibbert who plays the main character at the youngest age. He portrays this shy protagonist perfectly! It’s insane how much talent this performer has just with the ability of his subtle mannerisms and facial expressions. His power of silence was the most important to set up the psychology of his character.

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I’ll be shocked if Naomie Harris doesn’t get an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She was phenomenal and I completely believed what her character was going through. The performance made her unrecognizable and unsettling.

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Mahershala Ali has shined this year with his performances in Free State Of Jones, Luke Cage, and now this! Although his role is minimal, he’s extremely important to the entire story and message. I really loved the humanity he brought to his character, it was genius to set him up as this stereotype and then prove that perception wrong as we learn more about him.

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The rest of the cast were exceptional because this film wouldn’t work without each of their distinctive performances. They all brought complexity to their characters which made it all feel so effective.

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  • Music

The songs that were used and the music that was made for this film was ominously gorgeous. The sound of this movie is a character of it’s own and fills the movie with passionate moments. There were themes for different characters which formed a seamless match and lyrically the songs were another voice that represented the messages subtly. I got this feeling that the music was giving off a sense of vulnerability in a clever way and I knew that every single note or sound that was being heard was there for an essential purpose. It was simply superb thanks to composer Nicholas Britell.

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  • Theme

A lot of dialogue that I heard screamed out to me what this film was trying to express. One line that really resonated with me came from Mahershala Ali’s character and he said, “At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you’re going to be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you.” This entire film was a perfect character piece about discovering oneself, the themes are identity and acceptance. The main character, Chiron, was a person who didn’t have any core guidance from anyone and was forced to be raised in isolation where no one could understand or accept him. This is where I felt very attached to him and cared about where his journey would lead him.

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I loved that at each stage of his development he would be dealing with an aspect of identity; as a kid-indifference, as a teen- fight or flight, and as a man-disguise. Another quote that I loved was, “Who is you Chiron?” This repetitive question through each stage gave us a deep insight on the main character’s psyche as he convinces himself that he’s just being himself. Self acceptance is a root of happiness because it allows for someone to explore the truths about who they are rather than have self sabotaging behaviors from being someone they are not. Embracing the authentic self will offer a new light on life.

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  • Negatives

The only problem I had with this film was how one of the characters was used. I really loved a certain character, but something happens which made me feel like there wasn’t a proper farewell to that person. I wish I got to see more from that person, it seemed like they just skimmed it over and I told myself, “wait really that’s it, we’re moving on?!” I also wanted more after the final scene because I felt so involved, but after a few days of processing it, I completely understand why the ending was just enough. Those were my only issues, the film still works in an incredible way.

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  • Overall

Moonlight had everything I could ask for in magnificent film. The acting was absorbing, the story was sensitive yet powerful, the music was cerebral, the cinematography was breathtaking, the direction was imaginative, and the themes were positively thought provoking. This is easily one of the best films of the year and I hope when you see it you can enjoy it as much as I did. I love it when smaller films like these have so much to say and execute it with brilliance, it reminds me why I love movies. I’m expecting this to have several Academy Award Nominations. “In moonlight, black boys look blue.” My rating for Moonlight is 10/10! 🙂 

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