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Moonlight Movie Review

It’s time for another movie review presented by our good friends over at FatCats Gilbert on the southwest corner of Greenfield and Baseline! FatCats Gilbert is the best place to check out all of the latest box office releases with the entire family! In fact, I took my family there just last weekend, and between the recliners, the popcorn, and the intimate and comfortable experience, they told me they’ll never go anywhere else to see a movie!

Moonlight is a movie I’d been hearing so much praise for, so I had to get out and check it out myself! It has been racking up awards through different outlets and festivals, so I wanted to get out and see it with my own eyes before I fell under the spell of Oscar buzz. Luckily, I had the chance to do that tonight! Honestly, I haven’t seen a movie from Barry Jenkins, and I didn’t know much about the cast other than Janelle Monáe and Naomie Harris. That being said, I was still looking forward to it, so let’s talk about it!

Moonlight is directed by Barry Jenkins and stars three different actors in three different phases in the life of Chiron, a young boy who grows up in an unforgiving area. Kids push him around, his mother is not always there, and he is forced to fend for himself most of the time, which includes absorbing hate from those who don’t understand or accept who he is.

First of all, this movie is amazingly well-directed. I was so impressed with how perfect every single choice was in the film. There are times in this movie where I just look at shots and camera use in awe telling myself that the director made such an interesting and appealing choice with his visual storytelling. Honestly, that was the part of this movie that blew me away. I thought that all of the storytelling and creative choices were beautiful. This movie pops into reality with the way the shots are constructed and the way that this urban area is portrayed. Sometimes the most impressive thing about the camera work isn’t even what’s on screen; it’s what the shot is hiding. I loved that about this movie. Next, I can’t even choose who I want to praise here, so I’ll just say that every single actor and actress in this movie is amazing. This could be the best ensemble performance of the year, but on top of that, all three actors playing Chiron are amazing. Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes all play Chiron as a nine year-old, a high-school student, and a fully grown man respectively, and they all do it amazingly well in one of the deepest and best character studies of the year. Chiron doesn’t have many words come out of his mouth, but we hear everything that his facial expressions and emotions say, and it gives so much life to Chiron and what he faces on a day-to-day basis. This movie takes one of the best looks at difficulties in life, and I was so impressed with how well realized the story and characters are.

I’m kind of nit-picking with the things I didn’t like about this movie, but I thought that the first act was easily the slowest. From a character building perspective, the first act is brilliant and plant’s the story’s feet in reality, but it does feel a little bit slow, and I found the second act where Chiron is really coming into himself as a person far more fascinating than what happened in the first act. Secondly, I think in the first act there is some weaker writing. When I say that it’s weaker, I mean that it’s weaker when compared to the rest of the film. Barry Jenkins doesn’t conform to any conventions in his style or the way he tells the story, but some lines feel a bit typical.

Overall, I was really impressed by Moonlight, and I loved every single choice Barry Jenkins made. I really hope we see him nominated for Best Director at the Oscars. The next thing that blew me away was the cast. It wasn’t just one person. It was the entire cast literally melting into their roles, and they make this movie’s characters work. It’s so beautifully shot and perfectly shows off the grit of the urban area Chiron lives. It has a great message, and it’s so well conveyed. I thought that the first act was by far the slowest of the three, but once we see Chiron start to fully become who he is, the movie takes off. I’m going to give Moonlight a 9.2/10.

Will you be checking out Moonlight? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! Which movies are you looking forward to in December? There will be plenty more reviews now that Oscar season is finally here, so be sure to stay tuned for every single one! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

PHOTO: Chicago Now

Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at [email protected]