Moonlight – Personal and Graceful


By: Ali Habous

[[I can see why the academy chose to give the Oscar for best film to Moonlight. Along with La La land, Moonlight is one of the most unique films of the year, even the past few years. Everybody likes to see the underdog winning and that’s what happened this year when the 1.5 million budgeted independent film won the most prestigious award in the film industry. However, is it a worthy winner? Is Moonlight the best film of 2016? Some might prefer La La land or Manchester by the Sea but in my humble opinion Moonlight is the best film of the year even if it falls short of the masterpiece stature. For the second year in a row the Academy hands the most significant prize to the most important and meaningful film of the year. Even though from a film-making perspective The Revenant was the best film of 2015, Spotlight was the most important one. It shed a very strong light on a very important subject which is the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church.]]

Moonlight is a coming of age story of a homosexual black kid in our time.  The film is divided into three parts chronicling the life of Chiron during his early years, teenage years, and adult years. We get to see all the abuse and hardships that he suffers because he is different. The story seems to send a clear signal to the viewer that they will watch two hours of someone suffering from physical abuse and constant tears, but surprisingly the film is not like that. Moonlight is a very graceful film that focuses on the main character and puts us straight in his life so we get the chance to see the good and bad times. Nothing feels rushed or fake in the movie. The dialogue, the characters, and the motivations are raw and real.

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Director Barry Jenkins uses the small scope and intimate story to put the audience in the character’s head until you start feeling his pain, wants, and needs. The empathy he creates for the main character played by three different actors is brilliant and it shows that this is a very personal project for Jenkins. Te performances are dynamic, especially by Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris, the real stars here are director Barry Jenkins, cinematographer James Laxton, and Colorist Alex Bickel. With a total budget of 1.5 million, these three talents behind the camera infuse the images and almost every frame with an artistic look and unique colors which make the film looks like a painting at times. The poetic score by Nicholas Britell accompanies this beauty and helps Moonlight transcend the boundaries of a coming of age drama and becomes a full dramatic and artistic movie going experience.

This beautifully made film is able to communicate feelings through silence and it shows us the importance of forgiving ourselves and accepting ourselves for what we are with all our faults and differences even if others will never accept us.  Moonlight might not be for everyone due to its sensitive subject or even its artistic look and feel, but if you are willing to look at it from a universal human perspective then you will find a lot of things to admire in the best film of 2016.

Rating: 8.5/10

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Congrats to Moonlight on winning Best Picture at the Oscars. It is out now on Blu-Ray and DVD and also back in limited theaters across Canada.

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