(K. Brent Tomer),
THE big shock at the Academy Awards on February 26th, aside from a kerfuffle over announcing the wrong winner for best picture, was that the right film actually won in the end. “Moonlight” is like no other film that has won best picture before: in terms of the story the film tells, how little was spent to tell it ($1.6m) and just how few people saw it. Far more will see it now.
Based on a semi-autobiographical play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, “Moonlight” is the tale of a black gay youth’s struggles growing up and coming of age as the son of a crack-addicted mother in the tough Miami neighbourhood of Liberty City. Barry Jenkins, another son of Liberty City, adapted the screenplay and directed it, splitting the story of the youth, Chiron, into three parts—as a boy, a teenager and then a man. The boy, neglected and verbally abused by his mother, finds a father figure in Juan, a drug dealer who gives him a second home and lessons in life. As a teenager he grows more distant from his mother and timidly explores his sexuality. As a man he has grown a hardened shell to protect himself from his childhood, but it begins to crack.
It is a hypnotic film, punctuated by small moving moments and meaningful silences, like the tension before a first kiss, or a question hanging without an answer. James Laxton, the cinematographer, washes the images in lush…Continue reading