Thursday, 15 September 2016

MOONLIGHT - Review By Greg Klymkiw - TIFF 2016 - A Young Life in Three Movements

Moonlight (2016)
Dir. Barry Jenkins
Ply. Tarell Alvin McCraney
Starring: Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes,
Naomie Harris, Jaden Piner, Jharrel Jerome, André Holland
Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monáe, Patrick Decile

Review By Greg Klymkiw

I've seen many coming-of-age pictures, but I've never seen anything like this one.

This, after having seen over 40,000 movies in my life, is a pretty wonderful thing.

Moonlight is an exquisitely unique picture in three “movements”. Starring Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes as Chiron, a young African-American growing up in Miami and eventually moving to Atlanta, we experience his longtime friendship with Kevin (Jaden Piner, Jharrel Jerome, André Holland). Based on "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue", a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, director-screenwriter Barry Jenkins divides the movie into three sections, each bearing the respective title cards: "Little", "Chiron" and "Black".

Intimacy, real intimacy, is what eludes our protagonist Little/Chiron/Black. Though his life flirts with a series of important relationships (most notably a kindly thug and his girlfriend), he remains a sad, distant and solitary figure.

It feels like a life in search of itself.

We share Chiron's journey from childhood (as a sensitive bullied kid living with his crack-addicted mother), adolescence (as a kid discovering his sexuality on the cusp of manhood) to early adulthood (as a man, now a criminal, seeking truths which have so far eluded him). We experience this man's life in a cinematic chamber piece that is as poetically musical as it is evocative in ways that are both culturally specific and universal at the same time.

It's a great picture. You'll leave the cinema convinced you've seen something you've never quite seen before. At the best of times, this is rare. In this day and age, it seems a miracle.


Moonlight is part of the Platform and Next Wave series at TIFF 2016.