Moonlight (15)- A Preview

Inspired by playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney’s postgraduate theatre project “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue”, Barry Jenkins’s second film is a remarkably assured portrait of three key moments in a young man’s life. Laden with Oscars and universally praised as a game changer, it has a lot to live up to. Fortunately, this ambitious and heartfelt film does just that.

Played by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes, Chiron is a man-child on a trajectory mapped out by his formative years. Befriended by Juan – a haunting rendition of a flawed man by Mahershala Ali – Chiron is crushed when he discovers the dark secret of this mentor. As Hibbert hands the baton to Sanders, the film asks fundamental questions about trust when Chiron is befriended by Kevin, played with astonishing maturity by Jharrel Jerome. And while those questions are not quite answered once Trevante Rhodes takes on the lead role, they are at least explored, so that a resolution of sorts brings the film to a legitimate, albeit elliptical conclusion.

With a sumptuous score from Nicholas Britell, and James Laxton’s atypical Day-Glo treatment of the grim streets of inner city Miami, the movie is a feast for the senses as well as the mind, and one that leaves a lasting emotional impact way beyond its slight narrative.

By David Vass

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