Review: ‘Moonlight’ shines bright


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“Moonlight” explores themes of social, sexual and emotional growth.

Christopher Pattyn, Writer

“Moonlight,” directed by Barry Jenkins, is a story of life, love and loneliness.

Beautifully shot and incredibly powerful, Moonlight follows main character Chiron, played by Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes respectively through the three defining periods of his life- childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.

As Chiron grows up, he deals with not only bullies at school and a drug addict mother but with his own identity- socially, emotionally, and sexually.

Moonlight explores the difficulties and expectations of growing up in contemporary America. The perspectives vary from a child who is neglected and simply wants to feel safe, to a teenager who is frustrated with the hateful world around him and simply wants to be accepted, to a young adult who has come to terms with who he is and simply wants to be loved.

The rawness with which the film tells its story and reveals characters inside is both breathtaking and soul crushing at once. Chiron is a character who is to be pitied for the amount of abuse he takes in his life but also to be envied for the couple real moments of human connection he experiences.

Through Juan (the drug dealer who steps in to be the only positive, yet incredibly flawed male role model Chiron ever has), played by Mahershala Ali, and his friend Kevin (who is the only source of romantic love Chiron ever comes to experience), played by Jaden Piner, Jharrel Jerome, and Andre Holland, the audience can revel in the few moments of respite from what is otherwise a depressing and lonely existence.

Moonlight exposes the worst of humanity in excruciating detail: meaningless and abhorrent behavior inflicted upon an individual simply for the fact that he is different, and does not fit into societal norms of masculinity or popularity.

This film is arguably one of the most important releases in the past decade. With the current climate of intolerance and hate going on in this country, it is important that we are confronted with a film that so eloquently shows the pointlessness of treating each other poorly.

There is absolutely no reason for Chiron to have to live the life he lives, except for the rest of us making ourselves feel more powerful and important by putting down those who are different.

Despite the generally appalling tone and events in Moonlight, the film also provides a resounding message of hope, in that human spirit is resilient and if life is lived from a place of respect and goodness beautiful things can happen.