Saturday, November 19, 2016


Race, identity, love, explored in eloquent Moonlight

Black lives matter in Moonlight, filmmaker Barry Jenkins' eloquent coming-of-age drama that explores issues of race, culture, and love in unexpected ways.

Adapted by Jenkins from an unproduced play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the story zeroes in on three key moments in the life of its protagonist as he experiences the world and searches for his place in it.

Beautifully acted, shot with visual intensity, and featuring a haunting soundtrack by Nicholas Britell, the movie begins in the recent past, in the suburbs of Miami.

A minor neighborhood drug kingpin, Juan (the charismatic Mahershala Ali), originally from Cuba, is making his rounds one day in his souped-up, vintage Impala, when he sees a pack of kids chasing a boy.
Ali and Hibbert; father figure

Tracking down the scared, silent boy to a boarded-up apartment house, Juan persuades him to come home with him. Over dinner with Juan's girlfriend, Teresa (Janelle Monáe), the boy reveals that his name is Chiron, but everybody calls him "Little" (Alex R. Hibbert).

Juan takes the boy home to his single mother, Paula (Naomie Harris). But Little starts spending more time with Juan and Teresa.

Juan becomes the boy's mentor and surrogate father; he teaches him to swim in the ocean, and offers thoughtful advice about finding his own identity, no matter what bullies, or his mother, say about him. "You gotta decide for yourself who you gonna be."

Holland and Rhodes: collision course
In the movie's middle section, we meet Chiron again as a 16-year-old high school student (now played by Ashton Sanders). And about ten years later, in the movie's final act, we catch up with Chiron (played as a pumped, hard-edged adult by Trevante Rhodes), whose life has taken a turn that's both unexpected, and yet, sadly, inevitable.

One night, he receives a phone call —out of the blue — from the one friend back home he'd had in grade school, easygoing Kevin (André Holland). So Chiron hits the road on a collision course with the past.

Moonlight gives us a new way to look at characters and situations that are only clichés on the fringes of most mainstream movies.

It's a slice of cinematic poetry with a vision all its own.

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