Saturday, 4 February 2017

'Moonlight' Review

'Moonlight' follows three stages of Chiron' life, from a young kid to high school and then as an adult later on. Chiron has to deal with family problems and issues with his sexuality as he makes his way through a tough, troubled life.

'Moonlight' is one of the leading contenders to do well at this year's Oscars, with nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor to name a few. The film is undeniably very well made with director Barry Jenkins direction combined with cinematographer James Laxton being able to create a beautiful film despite having a much smaller budget compared to most of its competitors. The streets of Miami are perfect for the film as Jenkins uses his experience from living there to get the best possible location for this tale. 

Director Barry Jenkins uses a unique form of a narrative by splitting the film up into three sections, one with Chiron as a young schoolboy, as a teenager in high school and then as a hardened adult. The three sections are split up equally carrying similar themes throughout them. The first and second parts feature Chiron in different stages of school showcase troubles he faces with bullies, as he deals with being harrassed constantly. The second and third both surround Chiron dealing with his sexuality in a neighbourhood that is not so understanding or kind about different sexualities. Meanwhile, the problems Chiron has with his mother and the bond he feels with close friend Kevin are apparent throughout the whole movie. Jenkins handles these social problems very well as she showcases the problems Chiron and many people in today's world may be facing. The film takes a new approach at a coming of age film, bringing a much darker and serious tone at times throughout the film.

One of 'Moonlight's biggest draws is indeed its story that does deal with a lot of issues in a time which is fairly fitting. Due to some of the content, it is hard to watch especially within the second part where Chiron is constantly picked on. The storytelling is clear and concise bringing some powerful moments. However, the film really does ride on the fact that you really get sucked in, attached to or relate to the character. As someone who prefers a more traditional story, I didn't love 'Moonlight'. I believe that this is a great film but it just never connected like it did for many others. There are great moments within the film but there does seem to be quite a bit of filler. This does make the film more realistic but it isn't necessarily the most entertaining or interesting, leaving a lot in between those moments filled with emotion.

Once you see what happens to Chiron in these stages of his life, you do automatically feel for him as some of the conditions he has to live and put up with are appalling. The character is played by three different actors in the film, Alex Hibbert as child Chiron,  Ashton Sanders as teen Chiron and Trevante Rhodes as adult Chiron. The three actors do achieve a genuine continuity throughout the film, carrying similar traits and qualities in each of the parts. In saying that, there isn't really anything that interesting about the character we follow. You feel sorry for him and that's about it, you don't grow to connect to the character as you don't really get to know him. For me, I didn't get that connection to the character that I really wanted. If so, it would have really nailed this film down for me but it just didn't fully deliver in that aspect.

As far as the rest of the performances go, there is a lot to marvel at. Naomie Harris is the standout of the film as the dysfunctional mother of Chiron. Harris is featured in all three stages of the film and fully deserves her Oscar nomination for her performance. Harris' performance is exceptional as you see her deteriorate through each stage, getting heartbreakingly worse and worse as the film goes on. Despite Harris being reluctant to take the role as this character, she shines brightest in the film by far. The fact that all of her scenes were performed in only three days with minimal rehearsals makes this performance even more impressive. Mahershala Ali is a frontrunner for the Best Supporting Actor award, especially after picking up the SAG award in the same category. Ali was enjoyable to watch on screen as he takes care of the young Chiron. However, I wouldn't necessarily agree that he should be up for the illustrious award. Ali is only in the film for a short period of time and although he does well, I wouldn't say there's enough for him to be considered as Best Supporting Actor. The character isn't explored or does enough for Ali to merit this accolade.

'Moonlight' most definitely is a worthwhile watch. It is undoubtedly a very powerful movie that looks to tackle issues that many face today. Amongst that is a clear coming of age film with the main character looking to find his way in life through many different stages. In the end, though, there just wasn't enough to make me love this film. It is incredibly well made, acted and scripted but just lacked that extra something for me.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Moonlight'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the movie or not. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor