This film was captivating from the first scene to the last. Barry Jenkins’ shooting style goes beyond merely engaging and fully submerges the viewer into the story. Jenkins’ style is so personal to the point of being unnerving at times. We find ourselves losing our footing with frenzied arc shots that track actors with multiple rotations. The viewer is unavoidably engaged in empathy and compassion with a series of extreme closeup shots that are so close to the action you can’t help but feel right there in the moment. These shots compliment the story and the performances exceptionally.
The story follows the life of Chiron and is played by 3 actors, from childhood, through high school, and into adulthood. Chiron’s character is held true and consistent through each act of the film. The most important aspect that is maintained by each actor is Chiron’s quiet disposition and the way that he does not emit his emotion vocally, but entirely through his facial expressions. Juan, played by Mahershala Ali, has a conflicting role in Chiron’s life. Being both an unlikely father figure and the supplier of Chiron’s mother’s habit, Juan is the catalyst in Chiron’s survival. While Ali’s performance stands out, each performance in this film is authentic and impassioned.
Moonlight is a steady emotional ride that seeks to find safety and security in life. The reoccurring line in the film, “Who is you?”, is at the root of the film’s message. Putting up a front can help protect yourself from danger, while you are adapting and growing. However, it can also isolate you and inhibit one from from flourishing. Are you being your true self?
Directed by: Barry Jenkins
Cinematography: James Laxton
Screenplay by: Barry Jenkins
Music by: Nicholas Britell
Runtime: 1h 51m