Release Date: November 18, 2016
MPAA Rating: R (for some sexuality, drug use, brief violence, and language throughout)
Writer/director Barry Jenkins has brought forth a unique film conveyed in three chapters that tells the story of a man spanning his life from childhood to adolescence to adulthood.
The character, Chiron, is portrayed at various ages respectively by Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes. Each actor is to be commended for delivering strong, yet often subtle, performances as they portray an African-American man on his journey of self-discovery.
The opening sequence of the film sets the stage for an environment in Miami filled with drugs and poverty in which the protagonist feels trapped. Although Mahershala Ali is receiving much critical acclaim for his portrayal of a drug dealer named Juan that takes an interest in Chiron (nicknamed “Little”), each actor in “Moonlight” is equally impressive, a testament to their talents as well as to that of director Jenkins.
Kudos should also be given to cinematographer James Laxton whose stylistic approach enhances the narrative, rather than hindering the storytelling.
“Moonlight” will be challenging for many filmgoers to watch, as much of the content is uncomfortable to experience, including rough language, sexuality, and violence. Perhaps it is that very discomfort that allows us to root for the protagonist, hoping that he can turn his life around and find the happiness he has sought throughout his life.