Director Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” is a story that highlights the difficulties of a young man coming of age in a South Florida community ravaged by crack-cocaine and gangs, while dealing with bullies at school and at home while struggling with his sexuality and place in the world. The film follow the main character, Chiron, at three significant points in his life: childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
Throughout his life, the pain Chiron feels is visible on the face of the amazing actors that portray him. Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes all present powerful performances as the main character, and the stages of his life flow together as if Chiron is played by one person.
The three main actors are supported by a cast of strong actors and actresses that offer equally powerful performances. Mahershala Ali plays Juan, a man that sees Chiron being defeated by the world around him and does his best to keep him from “folding into himself” as the Academy Award-winning actor described it. Naomie Harris shows the painful journey that Paula, Chiron’s mother, takes from addiction to recovery. Patrick Decile portrays Terrell, a boy that makes Chiron’s adolescent life almost unbearable. The sadism and hatred is raised to new levels in this amazing performance.
Beyond the acting, “Moonlight” is well-written and beautifully directed. The film won the best adapted screenplay and best picture Academy Awards, probably because of the realism of it. The story was originally a play based on the life of its author, Tarell Alvin McCraney. With this knowledge, the story becomes even more impactful.
All in all, “Moonlight” is an extraordinary story told in an unextraordinary way, which shows the harsh reality that many people have faced and continue to face today. It isn’t entertaining by definition, but it is a powerful story that will make you think, and should be seen by everyone.