Matt’s review published on Letterboxd:
La La Lan- I mean Moonlight is a coming-of-age story about Chiron, a young African-American boy growing up in a harsh environment that is unaccepting of his sexuality and personality. Throughout the film we see Chiron struggle with expressing his personality which is soft, tender and vulnerable in an environment that turns so many people into hard-shelled, cold closed-off individuals. This struggle for Chiron is only made worse by that fact that his “support system” is his mother dealing with her drug-addiction and a best friend that is completely fair weather because of his own strife with being seen and accepted for who he is. However, without giving too much away, there is one character that is critically influential in Chiron’s life that we see him model himself after. All these forces in Chiron’s life press on him throughout the film and what we the audience get to partake in is a profound cinematic experience grounded in the deeply human theme of empathy.
Moonlight gracefully contemplates many themes such as being able to humanize the people who cause us pain and let us down, expressing our own identity, the true cost of individualism in our different environments, the life saving safety of conformity, the naked like peace that can only be gained through humility and trust, the need for guidance, and the life altering power of both unconditional love and never-ending fear. Acting almost as an invisible hand, this flawless script examines many aspects of the human condition while keeping the focus on Chiron at all times. Through and through Moonlight makes Chiron a mirror for the audience to look at and see themselves in.
If you didn’t know, Moonlight was originally a play called “In the Moonlight, Black Boys Look Blue” which is a phrase that is so definitive of the story as a whole, that director Barry Jenkins kept that phrase word for word and implemented it into (my personal favorite scene of) the film. The color blue is constantly being used symbolically to show truth and vulnerability. Not only do we see the costume design frequently incorporate the color, but we also see some of the most critical moments in Chiron’s life playing out in blue scene-scapes. And emotionally, blue is so naturally relaxing that it creates an atmosphere which puts the audience (or me at least) into the calm headspace needed to slow-down and sink into the story and into Chiron’s life. From a purely visual standpoint, I adore movies with this many cool tones, and it’s just another thing about Moonlight that I love.
The characters are organic and the performances by this wonderful cast are so powerful and believable that it is almost impossible to not sympathize with them and their struggles. And at the end of the day, I believe that sympathizing with (or at least caring about) the characters is kind of the point of storytelling as a whole.
I know I will always have more to say about this movie than I can articulate. I’ve said it before but Moonlight is powerful. It struck a chord with me and is a film that I honestly believe I think about every single day. I can not give this film enough praise, I find it to be literally perfect. I’ve thought about it deeply for a long time, and without exaggerating, I believe Moonlight is not only thee greatest film of the 21st century, but is absolutely one of the single greatest films ever made.