MOONLIGHT

★★★★★

A remarkable film depicting the coming of age story of Chiron (pronounced in the film “Shy-rone”) an African-American boy growing up in Miami. The film is structured in three acts with three excellent actors playing the child, teen and adult Chiron. With a father nowhere is sight, and a mother addicted to crack cocaine, as a boy he is doing what he can to cope with aggressive bullies who mock him with the nickname “Little” and chase him for their own amusement. A boy of few words, but played expressively by young actor Alex R. Hibbert, Little connects cautiously with a older neighborhood man of (at first) unclear occupation (the excellent Mahershala Ali). In the second act, the teen Chiron (Ashton Sanders) cautiously explores his sexuality with his only friend Kevin, but is pushed to the breaking point when the bullies force Kevin to turn on him. When the third act opens, we gasp at the hulkingly buffed up form of the adult Chiron (Trevante Rhodes), now going by Kevin’s old nickname for him: “Black”. Trying his best to have a life in Atlanta after he gets out of jail, he finds himself compelled to take a road trip back to Florida when he gets a phone message from his old friend. Director Barry Jenkins in only his second feature has crafted an excellent, meditative film on a topic rarely explored so well in American film: the challenges of growing up black and gay.

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