‘Moonlight’ follows a boy through three stages of his life and his journey of self discovery, his struggles and his triumphs. Set to the backdrop of the beautifully dark streets of Liberty City, Miami, an impoverished neighbourhood filled with close-minded people.
The film follows Chiron through three stages of his life and as such each act as well as telling Chiron’s story at a certain age, in a three act structure, but it also flows with each other to make a full narrative.
The three acts are split between ‘Little’, which focuses on Chiron at age 9 as he is being picked on by his peers, though he doesn’t understand why. ‘Chiron’ which focuses on Chiron when he is 16, realising what kind of person he is and why things are they way they are, but not accepting them. Finally ‘Black’ which sees Chiron deny who he is and start to imitate the only father figure he had in his laugh, despite the fact that it is fundamentally against who Chiron really is as a person.
The three actors who play Chiron are absolutely amazing, it’s hard to pick a stand out performance between them as they all seem genuine and bring different aspects to the character. The delivery of certain lines are heartbreaking in their simplicity and are very powerful.
The fact that we aren’t shown some pivotal moments in Chiron’s life and instead find them out through dialogue just heightens the emotional impact that they have, as seeing how a certain event has affected Chiron, or his mother, or his best friend, connect more than actually seeing the scene would.
The film is beautifully shot, even the darkness is alluring and beautiful. It feels very real while at the same time, there’s something very special with how the film looks. The camera on the door isn’t used often, but when it is used it always looks good and again just adds to the realism of the film. The long pauses on characters faces really gives you a chance to absorb the emotion and empathise with even despicable characters.
A lot of the time, with films like this, there are no risks taken with the cinematography or the shots used, it’s just a standard framed shot with some slight colour saturation, for that “gritty” feel. That though, makes this film feel all the more special, that it isn’t resigned to being standard, that it wants to stand out, that it wants to be memorable, and in that way it is in sync with Chiron’s story.