Moonlight: "You Can Be Gay, But You Don't Have To Let Nobody Call You A Faggot"

Director: Barry Jenkins
Writer:     Barry Jenkins
                Tarell Alvin McCraney
Starring: Alex Hibbert
                Ashton Sanders
                Trevante Rhodes
                Jaden Piner
                Jharrel Jerome
                Andre Holland
                Janelle Monae
                Naomie Harris
                Mahershala Ali
Rating:    *****

Release Date: February 17, 2017 

There are very few films that focus on a gay character and follows him from childhood to adulthood, and even fewer where that gay character is also black. It is an important story to be told, and now is the perfect time for it. It is also common for LGBT films to be of poor quality, a real shame, because their story is as important as everyone's. Now while Moonlight's budget isn't substantial, the quality of script, acting and direction is outstanding.

Alex Hibbert & Mahershala Ali
Following our lead character as he grows up, we meet him at different chapters in his life. First as Little (Alex Hibbert), then as Chiron (Ashton Sanders), and then finally Black (Trevante Rhodes). Having to deal with violence, drugs, bullying, prison and battling his feelings as he develops, Chiron goes on a huge and emotional journey.

The three actors that portray Chiron are so real in their portrayals, and bring a real authenticity in their performances and acting. They are able to truly honor that character in that time of his life, and as he gets older you grow more and more to root for him and want nothing but a happy life in the end. These three actors, Hibbert, Sanders and Rhodes, have brought to life a gritty and intense character that more than deserves this screen time. As he falls in love with his friend, and they reconcile over the years, each actor shows it in a different yet familiar way, allowing the viewers to fall for their relationship.

The supporting roles portrayed by Janelle Monae and Naomie Harris add an extra level to Chiron's story, and help to fill out the holes in his story. Harris plays Chiron's emotionally abusive mother, a woman who Chiron has grown to hate as a child, and doesn't forgive until adulthood. Harris takes the character through some tense scenes, and somehow allows you to sympathise for her. She a woman in need of help, but just can't find how to get it. Monae become somewhat of a maternal figure in Chiron's life, and she gives a warm and caring presence in his life and on screen.

Naomie Harris
The standout performance comes for Mahershala Ali, who plays the character Juan. Finding Chiron as a child as he hides from bullies, the two get thrown together and brotherly and fatherly bond strikes up. Juan, a drug dealer now has a purpose and Chiron has someone that genuinely cares for him, and accepts him for something that no one else in his community does...being gay. Ali is warm, strong, and truly immerses himself in the role. His performance is a career defining one, and will no doubt sweep more awards than he has already won, having just won the SAG Award for best supporting actor.

Barry Jenkins has directed a diverse film and written and engaging script. Putting this together with such a talented cast has produced a breathtaking movie. Jenkins uses close up shots, gritty scenery and the urban environment to push the story forward and keep the audience fully involved. Moonlight is a beautiful coming-of-age story, focusing on a black, gay boy, all the way up to being a man. The most compelling part, that by the end you realise that him being gay and black doesn't matter, all that matters is at the end of his story, he is OK. 

Moonlight - Trailer