Moonlight is a great movie, but it is very hard for me to review because I have never seen a movie like this and it was also almost too real to judge as a film at some points. I can definitely see the comparisons of this movie to Boyhood but this movie is much better because it has a underlying and powerful message that the latter lacked.
To start, the performances and the setting set up a movie that was near perfection. Each freaking character seemed so incredibly real that they were not actors on the screen anymore but rather actual people. My favorite was Chiron. Furthermore, the setting was so genuine that it was impossible to even think anything was a set or scene. Each place was real. The cinematography also contributed to this as it was full of long tracking shots that truly captured the entirety and reality of the world on the screen. This was a 10 out of 10 for me.
Second, the plot was beautiful and again so freakin real. Truly explaining how small, subtle moments make any human, the way the story was told was honest and subtlety impactful. Splitting the movie into three sections was moving and effective. Each character played his role to perfection that it almost seemed impossible that these were actors. The way the story was told was unique and inspiring.
Third, the message and imagery in this movie is amazing, some of the best I have seen this year. The shots and story were so grounded in reality and the underlying premise were so solid that this movie was incredibly moving. The tracking shots created a world that was beyond the scenes and were very effective. The imagery of water and the beach and the usage of nicknames with the storytelling all lended to a much deeper meaning that was relevant to every walk of life no matter your creed. This message also did not have to be obvious or boastful or preachy and did not need to be beaten over he audiences heads, which I very much appreciated. Like the performances, the imagery and cinematography was subtle which made it all the more powerful.
*spoilers ahead: don’t continue reading if you haven’t seen this movie yet*
In terms of negatives, mine were mainly based on wanting more from this movie. I believe that in terms of what it was trying to accomplish, it was a near perfect movie, but there were times when I felt the story lacked moments I wanted due to the setup. The main example of this was Chiron turning into Black in a matter of second before our eyes. He mentioned “building himself up hard” but we as an audience never get to see this important time in his life. He simply changes from a scrawny, scared teen to this huge ripped man, which made it very hard to connect with his story line. Furthermore, the death of Juan was kind of glosssed over and I believe could have provided even more depth to Chiron’s character. This loss of his father figure was another important that the audience did not get to witness. It was scenes like these that were left out and kind of pulled me out of the movie for just brief moments.
Overall, I believe that this movie should thrive during award season. It’s performances were each unique and powerful. It’s direction was oozing with subtle beauty. It’s plot was modern and effective. This is definitely one of the best movies of the year and was able to accomplish everything it set out to.