Moonlight (2016)




Barry Jenkins




Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sander, Alex Hibbert, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Jaden Piner, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monae, Patrick Decile


It follows the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighbourhood of Miami.


The hype about "Moonlight" was so high, I went to the movies expecting nothing short of an astonishing film. Unfortunately, that's not the film I saw. I instead found myself watching a tedious coming-of-age film with great acting.

The story, which sounded very compelling and relatable to a lot of people as it is about a gay boy with a messed up mother, dealing with bullying, ended up being truly awful simply because it was told horrendously. It never seems to take off and doesn't go anywhere - at some point though the plot got a bit better and got me believe it was going to be interesting. That, of course, didn't happen.

The story is also quite unoriginal, predictable and clichéd. I wouldn't have had a problem with that if Barry Jenkins was able to say something new or different. It wasn't so. The film deals with so many issues, from being gay to bullying to dysfunctional mother/son relationships, but it just doesn't seem to convey anything. I'm not even sure what the director was trying to say.

There's still some good in "Moonlight". The cinematography by James Laxton is stunning, the colours are so rich and vibrant, and the music suits the film perfectly.

Another great thing about this film is the acting. I first saw Mahershala Ali in "House of Cards" and immediately liked him. I liked him even more in "Luke Cage" where his magnetic presence made him one of the most interesting things about the series. And now here he is, giving a sublime performance as a drug dealer. Naomie Harris also gives a brilliant performance as the mother, and the three actors (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes) playing the central character are all wonderful, delivering the character's emotion through their eyes and body.


  1. Oh no! I'm sorry you didn't like this more. It's one of my favorites. I hate when hype gets you like that. It got me a bit for la la land.

  2. You know, I have not seen the film but your review seems to fit what I was thinking. I will see it when it comes out on video.

  3. I'm between your and masterpiece level on this one. It didn't totally blow me away, thematically or story-wise, but I gave it a high rating for simply being visually flawless.

  4. Shame to see that hype ruined this for you. I experienced the same thing with Hell or High Water. :/ I really loved Moonlight. Even though I'd agree it's a pretty predictable coming-of-age movie, the performances and directing really wowed me. Interesting review!