The trailers for this film looked phenomenal, and the Metacritic scores were extremely high. It is the highest rated movie of 2016 and the 4th highest rated movie of all time. When I found that it would be coming to the theater in town, I was excited, because we don't usually get indie films that close, but was disappointed when the group that I was with were the only people in the theater. It may be a product of overhype, but I didn't think this movie quite lived up to its reviews.
The narrative structure of the film is quite interesting. The film is divided into three acts: one about the protagonist's childhood, one about his adolescence, and one about his adulthood. In these three acts, there are two overarching storylines: one revolving around his struggle with his home life involving drug addiction, and another involving his struggles with his sexuality. These two often intertwine, creating a complex, character-driven film. I am going to write this review with a section on each act of the film, with a section wrapping up my overall thoughts.
The first act of the film was the strongest, in my opinion. Its focus was on the home life plot, but the sexuality part still played an important role, creating a good balance. The character development in this part of the film is amazing. the writing is able to create an intense amount of audience sympathy for the protagonist, Chiron, in addition to the mentor character, Juan. Their interactions are great, and very well-written to create the best emotional reaction possible from the audience. The acting of Mahershala Ali is amazing, showing the perfect emotion, defying the stereotypes established for that type of character. The acting of Alex Hibbert and Naomie Harris are also great.
The second act is still really good. The balance between the two storylines is still great, with the sexuality part beginning to play an even bigger role in the film. The acting of Sanders in this act is absolutely amazing, and I think is the best performance of the three renditions of the protagonist. The pacing does begin to feel a little off in this act, but not to an extreme extent. There are a few somewhat sudden tone changes within the part from an intense drama to a more reserved romance. It didn't ever create a jarring effect, but it did draw me out of the film a bit.
The third act is what really drew me out of the film. Instead of having a good balance between the home issues storyline and the sexuality storyline. This act felt like it was trying to close out the plot as if it had been neglected in the first two acts. It creates a forced feeling to the act, and the drastic change of pace really brought me out of the film. The acting in this segment was still great, as was the character development, but I was watching this part of the film just feeling that something was off. It was by no means bad, but it was just weaker and less well-balanced than the others.
As a whole, the technical elements of the film were great. The cinematography was truly beautiful. There were some amazing shots that added a lot to the meaning of the film. The score and soundtrack choices were also great, adding a lot to the mood of the film. The color choices also did a lot to serve this function. I can definitely see this film winning a lot of awards in the technical areas.
So overall, I thought that "Moonlight" was a very good film, but it wasn't perfect. The first act was amazing and the second act was great, but the third act was only good. Regardless, the whole film was well-made from a technical aspect. I think that it was a bit over-hyped by the critics.
Big Tuna's Rating: A-
How Did I Watch It?: In theaters.
Had I Seen It Before?: No.
Would I Watch It Again?: Maybe.
I am a huge movie fan that wants to tell people about my very varying taste and opinion of film.