Who are we? Are we who we want to be? Or are we the sum of what other people wish we are? Even as I write these questions, I can feel how portentous and pretentious these questions sound. But, believe me, "Moonlight" manages to ask these questions and so much more in the simplest and most profound ways without ever seeming portentous or pretentious."Moonlight" is a coming of age story of a gay black man in Miami divided into three segments - childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Each segment focuses on our central character's relationship with characters that influence his decisions and character in life."Moonlight" shines because it beautifully balances its mesmerizing technical aspects and its understated (almost muted) characters. Director Barry Jenkins' makes sure that the innovative cinematography and swelling music add to the movie's characters and not just seem like additions to the movie. James Laxton utilizes shallow focus throughout 'Moonlight" to make the film look visually unique but with a purpose - to add to the protagonist's alienation from the environment. Jenkins' decision to utilize this style of cinematography, rather than seeming flashy, adds, even more depth to the protagonist of the film as the background visuals almost seem completely lost to the viewer. Therefore, the long takes and static shots of the camera mainly focus only on the protagonist. Jenkins' repeated use of the "Moonlight" colors - blue, light purple, and dark blue - add brilliantly to the central protagonist's ambition and moods. The aspect of "Moonlight" that creates the most emotional impact, however, is Nicholas Britell's quite brilliant (and under-rated) haunting piano and violin score. The score, like Jenkins' direction and Laxton's cinematography, is understated for the most part but swells exactly at right moments to.give an operatic feel to the movie that leads to some of the movie's most powerful moments. I was completely enthralled by the movie's use of music in its scenes of transition between the different segments and in its main themes for the first and third central character.The screenplay, characters and performances in "Moonlight" are equally immersive as its music and visuals. Jenkins' screenplay is pretty much flawless. He structures the film beautifully with each segment following an established path that gives the central character in the movie a completely natural character arc. Jenkins' trust in visual storytelling and muted emotions is all the more impressive adding enormously to the character's emotions and allowing the little bits of dialogue to carry all the more weight. The three actors playing the central protagonist at different ages (Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes) are all terrific - emoting the loneliness of the central character brilliantly through their eyes and body language. All the supporting actors are integral here as each of them adds another layer to the movie and the central character's journey. André Holland and Mahershala Ali are especially memorable in their performances of character's that add immense humor and heart to the story.The name to remember after "Moonlight" is Barry Jenkins. "Moonlight" is only Jenkins' second film as a director-writer and he truly seems to make strides with his directorial and writing abilities. Jenkins' subtle and understated direction, and ability to integrate visual panache with layered storytelling is truly masterful. The fact that Jenkins can invoke emotion and make the audience reflect on their lives is truly an achievement. I cannot wait to see his 2008 directorial debut ("Medicine for Melancholy") and future work.I have seen "Moonlight" twice now. The first time I saw it, I thought it was an incredibly powerful story told beautifully. The second time I watched it, I was equally stunned by the subtle nuances of the film I had missed the first time. Both times I watched it, I came out of the theatre thinking about how events and people have influenced who I am now. That is the power the best of cinema possess and "Moonlight" is as perfect a film you are likely to see this year, so do not miss it!
Three time periods - young adolescence, mid-teen and young adult - in the life of black-American Chiron is presented. When a child, Chiron lives with his single, crack addict mother Paula in a crime ridden neighborhood in Miami. Chiron is a shy, withdrawn child largely due to his small size and being neglected by his mother, who is more concerned about getting her fixes and satisfying her carnal needs than taking care of him. Because of these issues, Chiron is bullied, the slurs hurled at him which he doesn't understand beyond knowing that they are meant to be hurtful. Besides his same aged Cuban-American friend Kevin, Chiron is given what little guidance he has in life from a neighborhood drug dealer named Juan, who can see that he is neglected, and Juan's caring girlfriend Teresa, whose home acts as a sanctuary away from the bullies and away from Paula's abuse. With this childhood as a foundation, Chiron may have a predetermined path in life, one that will only be magnified in terms...
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February 15, 2017 at 6:47 pm