Moonlight (2016) – Ace Mini-Review

Starring: Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, Alex Hibbert
Written by: Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney
Directed by: Barry Jenkins
U.S.A., 2016

How good is this movie?

A simple story about the painful discovery of identity, skillfully performed and tastefully arranged. The result is quite simply a beautiful movie. Like many of my favourite films and books, it is built on crucial moments with lifelong ramification. It is more linear than other works of this kind, but what other films accomplish with structure it makes up for with acting. All of the performances are good, but I was especially impressed with Rhodes and the understated intensity of the third act. The filmmakers are clearly masters of conveying a great deal of emotion with little action or dialogue.

How ace is this movie?

The film is ostensibly about coming to identify with one kind of sexuality, but this revelation is clearly more about a relationship than about sex. Chiron’s one sexual encounter takes place in the context of an established friendship; indeed, his statement at the film’s end makes him sound almost demi-sexual. It is also clear that more than sexual desire is at work between Chiron and Kevin, and that Chiron’s heartbreak is about the loss of friendship rather than of sex. The look of longing on the adult Chiron’s face when he and Kevin reunite evokes the pain of lost love that should be familiar to anyone acquainted with adolescent heartache, sexual or otherwise. Moreover, while the friendship with Kevin is clearly important, it is not the only significant relationship in the movie. Chiron is also deeply affected by his troubled relationship with his mother and finds an important emotional support in his quasi foster-parents, Juan and Teresa.

4 Stars; 3 Aces

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