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Boyhood was one of the best films of the past few years; it took such a simple look at the life of a kid through his maturing years. However, something that was overlooked in all the praise for the film, was that it only looked at the boyhood of a white child. In Moonlight we take a look at the very different upbringing of a black boy.

Moonlight is the story of Chiron, who is played in three stages of his life by different actors (Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes). The film looks at Chiron as seeks out to find out who he really is; in fact his name changes in the three stages that we see of his life, from Little, to Chiron, to Black. As a young boy, Chiron lives with his addict mother (played by Naomi Harris), whom he frequently runs away from, seeking refuge at the house of a drug dealer named Juan (Mahershala Ali) and his wife Teresa (singer Janelle Monae) who act as Chiron’s dream parents. Chiron is also bullied at school as people see him as a queer because of his quiet demeanor and lack of participation in “manly” activities.

The film goes deep into Chiron’s life and we get a glimpse of a community that Hollywood rarely shows us. The film deals with the inevitability of crime and drugs in one’s life, as well as a forced societal masculine image. However, I was glad that director Barry Jenkins wasn’t looking for pity for our character, but rather an acceptance of him.

The story itself, like Boyhood, doesn’t really have a core plot, except that of this character’s journey; but like Richard Linklater’s film, it manages to keep you hypnotized to the screen looking at everyday events of one’s life. Each character seems so real, and to some points even relatable. The casting is absolutely perfect, from the newcomers who play Chiron, to an absolutely stellar performance by Mahershala Ali, and great turns from Naomi Harris and Janelle Monae.

In short, this is a flawless film that looks into a subject little if not explored at all in cinema. The film is fabulously directed, written, and acted. And in terms of pacing, when it fades to black, it almost feels short. Undoubtedly this is one of the best films of the year.



About Young Critic

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I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website in a film-buff phase in high school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

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