Directed by Barry Jenkins
I finally got around to watching this Best Picture winner. I couldn't resist making heavy comparisons throughout the film with Boyhood, another Bildungsroman, and there's no doubt in my mind: Boyhood is better. I still enjoyed this though, and at least it offered us an embarrassing Oscar blunder.
Moonlight tells the story of Chiron, a quiet, withdrawn boy who is being "raised" by his crack-addicted mother. Chiron is constantly bullied at school but forms a special bond with drug dealer Juan and his girlfriend Teresa. He also befriends Kevin and quickly develops his first crush.
As always, I'll start with what I liked about this before I settle into my crankiness. All of the performances were wonderful and one moment of Paula's (Chiron's mother) anger actually gave me chills. Some of the images were also hauntingly beautiful. I particularly loved the moment when Chiron smooths the sand after having his first sexual experience. It reminded me of similar moment in Remembrance of Things Past between Gilberte and Marcel. Although, you know, slightly less gross.
And now, to carping. I felt like I never fully got a grasp of Chiron's character. Of course, Chiron was so reticent that he couldn't really bond with anyone, let alone the viewer. Still, that bond is needed, at least for me, to really enjoy a coming of age story. I wish the director had allowed us to see some of Chiron's everyday moments (that didn't involve being terrorized by assholes), as Linklater had in Boyhood. I clicked with Holden Caulfeld not because of his experiences, but because he hated how dirty Stradlater's razors were. I wanted to share more ordinary moments with Chiron, although perhaps the tragedy is he never got any.
It is, of course, also significant that this has an all-black cast and is an LGBT film. It is nice to know that in this era of Marvel mania, movies like this can still exist.
The three actors who played Chiron never met. This really doesn't make sense to me. Wouldn't that have helped adult Chiron understand his character better?
Naomie Harris shot her scenes in three days.