Review: Moonlight (2017)

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Barry Jenkins’ tender coming-of-age drama explores the anxieties of a black man – Chiron – as he comes to terms with his identity – personal and sexual – in a tough neighbourhood of Miami. The script unfolds over three stages in Chiron’s life – childhood, adolescence and adulthood – and is every bit intimate, beautiful and heartbreaking. Jenkins cuts to the heart at every turn, exposing Chiron’s battle – be it with his mother’s spiral into drug addiction or his various run-ins with bullies – in all its frustrations, awarding the film a palpable honesty. The nuances, down to the drips of sweat and erotic trembling of a lip, are extraordinary. One scene in particular that comes late in the film is a masterclass of chemistry as an older Chiron reconnects with an important figure from his childhood; the heat between them deeply passionate. It’s almost impossible to believe that the protagonist is played by three different actors, each of whom deliver excellent performances that merge into one; the inner conflict a constant across them all. It’s a feat in itself, but coupled with Jenkins’ delicate touch and the narrative’s powerful spell, this is a film not to be missed.

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