It has been a long time since a movie has caused me to stop chewing the popcorn which I normally shovel into my face hole. A while since a single kernel has stood on the tip of my tongue, only to roll off to the sticky surface of the floor, racing my jaw along the way. For the second and third acts of this movie my canister of munchies lay askew upon my legs and I was immobile.
Moonlight is a captivating, down-to-earth story of a boy who grew up with a mom who neglected him and father who was no more than a question mark. A drug dealer finds him hiding out in an abandoned hovel, after narrowly escaping a pack of ravenous bullies. His is curious about this boy who goes by the name of “Little” and gets him food, a safe place to sleep, and teaches him to swim. Over the course of three acts, Little grows up and struggles through every minute of it. He learns about love and acceptance while being shrouded in abuse.
Aspects which are central to the plot of this movie are merely hinted at. Not a whole lot is explicitly stated and it is more up to you to guess. It is more about the emotions than the actions. Sometimes the film can be a bit nauseating during the Steadicam shots but it works well with the emotion of the shot so it is warranted. The colour palette gets very creative. Filming in Little’s hometown of Miami is often done with a yellow overlay, while the night shots are conversely blue. For the most intensely emotional parts, especially involving his interactions with his mother, the saturation comes in full force. Acting, pacing, directing, and are all done so amazingly well. Most importantly, the phrase “show, don’t tell” is taken one step further: insinuate, don’t tell.
I left the theatre dumbfounded. It was just such a breath of relief knowing that movies of this calibre are still being produced. Stop reading this review and go see Moonlight now!
Director: Barry Jenkins
Writers: Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney
Starring: Mahershala Ali, Alex R. Hibbert, Naomie Harris