Barry Jenkins’s brilliantly accomplished and constantly surprising Moonlight, based on a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney. This is an engrossing portrait of an African-American growing up in the shadow of a crack epidemic, who struggles to come to terms with his sexuality in a culture that idealises hyper-masculinity.
This film is divided into three sections, each tracing a part of the main character, Chiron’s life, with the first charting his life as a child in Miami during the nineties when he was repeatedly bullied at school but was taken under the wing of a local drugs kingpin who offers the kind of leadership and emotional support that he sorely needs, through adolescence to eventual adulthood as a drug dealer in Atlanta.
The cast is uniformly excellent with Chiron played at three stages by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and the hulking Trevante Rhodes, while conviction is heightened by the fact that all three actors bear an uncanny resemblance. There is also a career – best performance from a virtually unrecognisable, Naomie Harris, as Chiron’s junkie mum who ironically gets her supply of crack from the very drugs kingpin who is proving to be such an ideal father figure to her son!
This, in short, is a tour de force of filmmaking that addresses such issues as identity, race, gender, drugs and sexuality with restraint and genuine emotional power. Deservedly picked up a trio of Oscars in 2017.
Moonlight – Wednesday at 9.00pm on FilmFour.