For Reel

Moonlight (2016)
December 28, 2016, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Barry Jenkins
5 Stars
moonlightMoonlight seeks to answer the question, “Who is you, Chiron?” not by providing an arc of redemption or soul-revealing conversations, but by instead mourning that it is a question to be asked in the first place. In a film dealing with poverty, bullying, and drug addiction amongst other things, its darkness descent into miserablism is the suggestion that someone could be robbed of an identity, compelling themselves to instead build armor as a way of protecting innermost secrets. Only when Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) and a childhood friend (André Holland) reconnect in the last of three vignettes does it become apparent that the rest of the film existed only to bring the audience to this moment—Moonlight is, if anything, a procedural that documents how a man could get to the point where he finds it an impossibility to express himself honestly. Barry Jenkins stylizes the material sensually throughout, but in this climactic sequence it becomes more complicated. A brief montage of Kevin (Holland) preparing a meal could play either as Chiron’s fetishization or as an evocation of Kevin’s connection to what brings him sensual pleasure. What makes Moonlight great is that it carries the emotional weight of both—it’s a romantic image full of sadly unfulfilled, silent longing. If Jenkins’ images evoke the “feel” of a place (the climax of a sexual act depicts fingers pulling through sand), the film paradoxically suggests that Chiron deprives himself of feeling the very things that bring him pleasure.

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