MOONLIGHT (2016) Movie Review

MOONLIGHT (2016) 5 Stars (out of 5)

MOONLIGHT (2016) Movie Review

Rated R — 110 Minutes

If 2016 was the year of “Oscar’s African American Snub” — then 2017 may just be the first time in 89 years — “Oscar’s Year of the African American Triumph”. Hollywood was color blind last year, but in reviewing all of this year’s major films — every one of Oscar’s 20 acting nominations could be filled by a person of color. While there is one film — Nate Parker’s masterpiece, THE BIRTH OF A NATION, whose deserving actors, crew and film may be totally shutout, it is a safe bet that when the Oscar nominations are announced on January 24, 2017, you can expect nominations for LOVING, FENCES, HIDDEN FIGURES and MOONLIGHT.

MOONLIGHT is the first and only film in 2016 that I am recommending to either purchase or rent the DVD. In order to grasp and truly understand all of the subtleties and nuances, you will need to watch it twice, if not three times. Yes, this is a haunting, disturbing film that just may be better seen at home. This can then give family and friends the opportunity for discussing to address the myriad of themes.

MOONLIGHT is very much a director’s film. Barry Jenkins will surely be nominated for Best Director of the Year as will his film. Mr. Jenkins, together with Tarell McCraney, wrote the screenplay together, adapting from an original stage play — “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney.

The film’s narrative is divided into three separate chapters in the life of Chiron — played by Alex Hibbert (boy); Ashton Sanders (adolescent) and Trevante Rhodes (man). Chiron’s mother is played by Naomie Harris. Mahershala Ali is absolutely brilliant as Juan and is destined for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Janelle Monae plays Teresa. And three actors who play Chiron’s schoolmate Kevin (growing from Jaden Piner to Jharrel Jerone to Andre Holland) should also be acknowledged.

Equally outstanding is the cinematography directed by James Laxton and the eclectic musical score coordinated by Nicholas Britell. Nominated for 6 Golden Globe Awards.

MOONLIGHT begs the question and brings to light what life is like around the Miami housing project. The themes which I wrote down as the story developed included — Black and Poor; Drugs, Adolescence and Parenting; Bullying, Homophobia and Masculinity; Incarceration, Regrets and Redemption.

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