Movie Review: Moonlight

By Jonathan Fuchs, Music Director

[A24; 2016]

Rating: 9.5/10

Every year, a movie comes along that people remember for years and years to come as a perfect portrait of humanity. They’re movies so real and emotional, they help the audience walk around in someone else’s shoes; learning about what it means to be alive. In 2016, we get that raw portrait of humanity with Moonlight.

Moonlight follows Chiron, a young black man growing up in a crime-ridden neighborhood in Miami. The film is told in three different stages of his life (childhood, adolescence, adulthood) and told in three separate parts: “Little” (Chiron being played by Alex Hibbert), “Chiron” (played by Ashton Sanders) and “Black” (played by Trevante Rhodes). Each chapter shows Chiron discovering new things about himself and struggling to deal with school bullies, his drug-addicted mother and the discovery of his sexuality.

The strongest element of Moonlight take place in the acting and screenwriting, which are both absolutely phenomenal. Every single actor in this film embraces the script and their characters, making the movie even more intense and spine-tingling. This especially goes for the child actors in the first third of the film; most child actors are usually robotic and stale in their roles, but all the child actors in Moonlight are basically flawless, with Alex Hibbert being one of the biggest highlights of the entire film. The actors also have a lot to work with because of the excellent script, which never holds back with its message and always provides excellent, thoughtful scenes that bring so much life into every single minute.

The cinematography and overall look and feel of the film is also outstanding. Every shot and scene is full of color and interesting perspectives, adding a lot of excitement and tension into the movie. The film is covered in still, slow shots, but its lighting and color, combined with its pacing and direction, make each still goosebump-inducing. The soundtrack is also great, which has everything from Mozart to Erykah Badu, and the droning, almost minimalist, score composed by Nicholas Britell helps connect so much of the suspense that happens throughout.

Moonlight is hands down the best and most important movie of 2016. Its storytelling, characters, pacing, acting and cinematography stick with you and leave you with a broken heart and an endless pit in your stomach. Its perspective on self-identity and sexual confusion are so raw and honest, the audience will leave the movie speechless. Moonlight is nothing short of an absolute masterpiece.

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