Starring: Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Ashton Sanders.
There is an elevated sense of expectation in going to see a movie after it has received a great deal of critical success, a lot in the case of Moonlight after the quite extraordinary events of last months Oscar ceremony. Was Moonlight worthy of the award of awards?
Moonlight charts the life of a young man from childhood to adulthood as he navigates through a life with a drug abusing mother, a school life in which he is ostracised & bullied and his own personal sexual awakening.
There are some fantastic performances in this film. All 3 actors who portray Chiron throughout his life are great, Ashton Sanders who plays teenage Chiron, all awkward teenage angst and simmering rage at a life he feels completely isolated from. Adult Chiron, played by Trevante Rhodes is living a charade as a hardened and cold man, hiding from his past and in many respects, himself, coming to a self-realisation when he reconnects with a childhood friend. Mahershala Ali’s Best Supporting Actor Award was well earned as Juan, even if his screen time is relatively short. Juan trying to act as a needed father figure to young Chiron whilst also being very aware that he is more than a little to blame for the young man’s plight, a performance tinged with affection, guilt and sense of obligation is deftly handled by Ali. Praise should also be levelled at Naomie Harris for her portrayal of Chiron’s drug addled mother, a woman who becomes increasingly crippled by her dependency as Chiron grows, so much so as to alienate her son when he needs a mother the most.
As with all films that elevate themselves to the status Moonlight has achieved, there is more more under the surface to this film. On the surface is an affecting story of a young man struggling through a life less than ideal but beneath is an incredibly intricate portrait of not living a life that is true to ones self. Chiron, living his life without a stable father figure finds himself becoming in his adulthood the same as the only semi-paternal figure he had in his childhood, all the while not acting upon his own suppressed sexuality.
Moonlight was most certainly deserving of the praise that it had received this awards season, it is a remarkable piece of work. Beautifully shot, wonderfully acted and remarkably affecting. Believe the hype, it is most certainly deserved.