• James Rutherford

'Moonlight': The Heartfelt, Enormously Empathetic Chronicle of a Young Black Man's Coming-of-Age


Movie poster for the film Moonlight starring Alex R. Hibbert, Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris

Based on the play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney, "Moonlight" is the coming-of-age story of a young boy/burgeoning adult named Chiron, played out in three parts, showcasing three distinct chapters in his life.


The storyline begins in Chiron's childhood, at a time when he goes by the moniker "Little" (Alex R. Hibbert) and lives in a fatherless home where his mother Paula (Naomie Harris) immerses herself in undue drug abuse. Bullied by local youths, Little finds unexpected kindness from a local drug dealer named Juan (Mahershala Ali) who invites him into his home and becomes a surrogate father of sorts. The story progresses into Chiron's adolescence (here portrayed by Ashton Sanders)—a period when he begins to recognize his homosexuality while being fiercely bullied and rejected by his classmates. Eventually the narrative finds Chiron as a hardened adult self-style "Black" (Trevante Rhodes), whose brute veneer masques a lonely soul continuing to struggle with his identity while yearning for love and acceptance.


Told with remarkable grace and patience, "Moonlight" unfolds organically while bursting with empathy for Chiron along his life’s journey. It manages to successfully side-step familiar trappings, and emerge as an utterly original and profoundly moving cinematic experience. Writer/director Barry Jenkins has created something special with this one, carefully balancing pacing and storytelling to draw you into Chiron’s world layer-by-layer, revealing a heartfelt depiction of pain, healing and ultimately some degree of reconciliation.

 

View the trailer: