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FILM REVIEW: MOONLIGHT (15)

The winner of Best Picture… eventually!

La La Land tells the story of an aspiring actress and a dedicated jazz musician, struggling to make… apologies, wrong review.

For those that are puzzled by that opening line, La La Land thought they were champions for a few minutes at the Oscars due to an envelope mix-up. It wasn’t until mid-way through their speech that the correction was made. Awkward.

Allow me to start over.

Moonlight is one of those small, indie films that I usually don’t get to see till the DVD release, as they’re often neglected by mainstream cinema.

Moonlight-3It has now however, been given the wider release and recognition it deserves after rightfully winning Best Picture at the 89th Academy Awards. This meant I was able to see it on the big screen and I highly recommend you do the same whilst you can.

Written and directed by Barry Jenkins, Moonlight tells the story of Chiron during three different eras of his life, panning roughly 16 years. As a young boy (played by Alex R. Hibbert) he lives with his crack-addict mum (Naomie Harris) and struggles growing up in the tough Miami neighbourhood where he is bullied. As a teenager (Ashton Sanders), he is isolated from his peers and as a man (Trevante Rhodes), he struggles with the perception of who he should be.

 

Its during the first act when Chiron meets a man named Juan (Mahershala Ali), who takes the boy under his wing, becoming a father figure. The problem is, Juan is a local crack dealer who just so happens to sell drugs to Chiron’s mother – making him both a mentor and antagonist. A difficult situation, though not as problematic as the boy having to battle with his own sexuality in an environment where being gay is simply not accepted.

Moonlight-4During this coming-of-age movie, the performances of the three actors that play Chiron are so masterfully in sync that you would be forgiven for thinking you were watching the same actor through different points of his life – much like what we saw in Boyhood. And although Moonlight shares many similarities with Boyhood in terms of style and tone, I feel this is a much more polished and complete story.

With great casting and directing, alongside stunning cinematography and a beautiful score – seemingly blending classical opera with R&B – Moonlight is a spectacular viewing experience.

Moonlight-2

That being said, this won’t be for everybody. It struggles with some pacing issues, particularly during the third act. Also, watching a film dealing in large part with society, race and sexuality may be a little unsettling for some, but that’s what makes this movie so important. Without getting too political, with the cultural climate the way it is today, these are subjects we should not shy away from. Moonlight tells us it’s OK to be different and that we should embrace those that are – and with it winning Best Picture, hopefully more people are getting that message.

Do you think Moonlight should have won Best Picture, or should the award have gone to La La Land? Perhaps you think a different film entirely should have won? Let us know in the comments box below.

Mikey Clarke

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Genre: Drama

Cast: Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes, Janelle Monáe, Naomie Harris & Jaden Piner

Running Time: 1hr 40mins

Written/Directed by: Barry Jenkins

See if you liked: Boyhood & Brokeback Mountain

WatchMoonlight and much more at Showcase Cinema De Lux, Peterborough. Visit www.showcasecinemas.co.uk for the latest up-to-date show times. You can also join the chat on Twitter @showcasecinemas or on Facebook by searching for ‘Showcase Cinemas’.

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