Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2017)

What's it about? In a rough Miami neighbourhood, a coming-of-age drama follows young, black, gay Chiron as he grows from shy child to bullied teenager to guarded adult.


Is it any good? I was all set to use my pre-prepared, flippant summary 'Gayz n the Hood' for this film. But that seems a bit mean now, as this is a heartfelt and timely film about race, sexuality and contemporary American society. So it doesn't need me making weak jokes about it. Although I suppose I just have..... Anyway, this is primarily a superbly acted affair. Naomie Harris, as Chiron's drug-addict mother, and Mahershala Ali, a drug dealer who becomes a surrogate father figure to the boy, are the front runners in the Best Supporting Oscar stakes and both are excellent. However, its the trio of performances from  Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes which really engages, all three utterly believable as the same character at different stages of his life. Through them the troubled Chiron becomes a character in who we can really invest and his struggles with his homosexuality in such a macho environment are movingly and sensitively handled. That said, I think it's been a bit over-praised by others, perhaps because it is so 'brave' in dealing with these thorny issues of our time- anyone daring to criticize it is obviously a racist homophobe. As a character piece, the measured pace allows development. but as a drama, it lacks a little forward momentum. By its very structure it's episodic and the personal aspects of screenplay (written by Tarell Alvin McCraney, also Oscar-nominated) verges on self-indulgence at times. Still, it's a beautifully composed film and worth its current spot in the moonlight.

Anything else I should know? Based on the  play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by McCraney. Both he and director Jenkins have brought their own Miami childhood experiences to bear on the film, adding to its authenticity. Read an interview with them here. Come Oscar night, expect it to pick up a couple awards from its 8 nominations, as the Academy voters make amends for the 'whitewash' last year.

What does the Fonz think? Miami blues is the warmest colour



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