Search

Moonlight, review: ‘Barry Jenkins gives us life’

PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 February 2017

Moonlight. Picture: David Bornfriend

Moonlight. Picture: David Bornfriend

Archant

Moonlight shows life at its toughest and its most real, making it a more than worthy Oscar contender

The central character in Moonlight has three names and three faces and we drop in on him three times: as a boy called Little (Alex Hibbert), a teenager called Chiron (Sanders) and a man called Black (Trevante Rhodes).

You’d expect a film that charts the journey from boy to man to be concerned with the passing of time, but Moonlight plays out in a vacuum, a suspended state, where time and the wider culture have no hold. It always seems to be the present day and, other than a couple of extras, there isn’t a white face in the film.

Jenkin’s drama is strong on what is right in front of it. The camera is kept fixed on the foreground; the background is often a blur. His approach is to give a lightness to something that would usually be very heavy. Chiron’s mother (Naomie Harris) is a meth addict, the local drug dealer (Mahershala Ali) becomes a surrogate father figure, he is bullied at school and struggles with his sexuality.

Most other writer/directors would’ve presented this tale as a very stern and browfurrowed look at The African American Experience.

Jenkins gives us life – a tough life to be sure, but the film’s main thrust is the sense of being alive and the vitality of that, even when the life being lived isn’t up to much.

It simply flies through its first two thirds: you won’t believe he’s an adult already. In the final third Jenkins decides to bring the film to a halt, to bring some consequence and reflection to the years that have flown by. Viewers may also need a few minutes to adjust to this last Chiron: the gawky child has been transformed into musclebound 50 Cent lookalike.

This could be a decent outside bet to sneak the Oscar over La La Land because: It’s very good; they can’t keep giving it to films about Hollywood; to make amends for the Brokeback snub; giving it to a Big Black Gay film would make for a wagging finger anti-Trump statement about diversity.

But the values in Moonlight are, however inadvertently, generally conservative: drugs are bad, bullies have to be met with force, boys need fathers and races keep to themselves.

Halfmanhalfcritic.weebly.com for a review of Hannah and Her Sisters blu-ray release.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Islington Entertainment Stories

Yesterday, 07:00

When two Russian agents allegedly slipped radioactive poison into a cup of tea, Alexander Litvinenko wasn’t the only victim.

Fri, 17:36

Michael-James Dent and Chris Jones of Homerton band The Dolce Vita talk about gigging locally and releasing music via cassette, ahead of their show on November 24

Wed, 10:29

Essential viewing at the Smithfield Meat Market, this play tells a harrowing tale of life after care

Tue, 15:41

Foxlow’s Clerkenwell branch in St John Street is offering a vegan menu during November. The Gazette is impressed.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read entertainment

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now