Moonlight (2016)

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Can't Fight the Moonlight

Director: Barry Jenkins 
Running Time: 111 Minutes 
Starring: Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomi Harris, Mahershala Ali, Alex Hibbert

It's a misconception that one has to be of a certain race or sexuality to appreciate this film. Yes, that aspect may lead some to appreciate it even more, but the idea of basic human empathy is all it takes to care for the struggles a character goes through, no matter how different they are to you or me. Yet director Barry Jenkins has crafted a timeless tale, with moments and themes that are utterly relatable, transcending race and sexuality.

The life of Chiron is presented throughout three time periods, as he tries to find his place in the world. At the centre of the story lies how alone Chiron feels, and Jenkins perfectly captures this. An emphasis is put upon how lonely and isolated he feels, through keeping suppressed the person he really is. It's heart wrenching to witness, as our lead goes through his formative picked on for who he is, as the experiences of being marginalised turns his anger into outright hate. It's a story which feels relevant in today's troubled times, and Jenkins' handling keeps the tale completely gripping throughout.

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Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes each do a magnificent job, fantastically portraying the lead role of Chiron, throughout each stage of his life. Each actor manages to perfectly capture where our lead is at in their life, be it Alex Hibbert's portrayal of a shy and withdrawn child, Ashton Sanders as a bullied teenager afraid to stand up for himself, or the hardened adult portrayed by Trevante Rhodes. But at the core of their performances, each actor manages to capture Chiron's wanting to connect with others.

Mahershala Ali may not appear for too long, but makes one heck of an impact on both the film and Chiron. He manages to deliver a touching humanity to what could've merely been a clichéd role, providing a caring father figure to our lead. Naomi Harris gets a more tough role, portraying a mother gripped by her addictions. Harris' powerful portrayal elevates the character above a stock addict trope, which a lesser film would've merely settled her into.

With Moonlight, Barry Jenkins has crafted an emotional tale through the life of our lead, and one of the more heartfelt experiences from recent cinema. A powerfully acted story that proves entirely relateable, and won't be easily forgotten.