Urban Cinefile
"Let the make up do the acting, yep, that's exactly what I did. I thought to myself, there's no reason to act like a dog or animal, or it'd get a bit unreal."  -Temuera Morrison on his role as a dog-creature in The Island of Dr Moreau
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday August 22, 2019 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



SYNOPSIS: A timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.

Review by Louise Keller:
While the muffled dialogue and slang may stop you from understanding every word, one thing is sure, there is no mistaking the powerful statement this exploration of the Afro American male makes. Adapting a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, writer director Barry Jenkins has created an explosive film that captures all the angst of the young black protagonist, who we meet at three different stages of his life. Being black, bullied and struggling with sexuality are the driving themes throughout the three persuasive chapters into which the story is divided.

'Little' is the nickname given to young Chiron (Alex Hibbert in his first role), describing not only his physical state but also his lack of self-esteem and standing with his peers and drug-addicted mother (Naomie Harris, Oscar nominated and outstanding). It is also the name of the first chapter in which the young boy meets Juan (Mahershala Ali, also Oscar nominated in a stand out performance), the charismatic drug dealer with bling who becomes his role model as he shows decency and teaches important survival tools.

Ashton Sanders plays Chiron in the second chapter, physically resembling Hibbert with his slight build and vulnerable persona as he leaps from a 10 year old youth to a teenager. He is given the nickname 'Black' - by Kevin (Jharrel Jerome) with whom he has an affinity. The bullying to which Chiron is subjected to leaves us horrified, while his first sexual encounter is handled with great nuance and subtlety, reinforcing his vulnerability and confusion.

It is apt that the final chapter is titled 'Black', when we meet our protagonist (now played by Trevante Rhodes) who has rebuilt his life. It takes us some time to grasp what has happened between the second and third chapter and the revelations are best discovered in the context of seeing the film. The circular nature of the exposition becomes apparent: Juan's influence, a reconnection with Kevin (Andre Holland) and Chiron's troubled mother, That's when all the story strands fall in place and we remember the dizzying hand-held cinematography of the opening sequence that circles around and around as it accentuates the confusion. The subject matter is tough; the experience is touching.

Moonlight is nominated for 8 Academy Awards including Best Film and won Best Motion Picture Drama at the 2017 Golden Globes.

Email this article

Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

(US, 2016)

CAST: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Alex Hibbert, Trevante Rhodes, Jharrel Jerome, Andre Holland

PRODUCER: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adele Romanski

DIRECTOR: Barry Jenkins

SCRIPT: Barry Jenkins (story by Tarell Alvin McCraney)


EDITOR: Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders

MUSIC: Nicholas Britell


RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 26, 2017

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2019