Moonlight: A Coming of Age Film for Everyone

Mahershala Ali and Alex Hibbert. Credit: Photo by David Bornfriend, courtesy of A24.

Moonlight tells the story of one person during three acts of his life as he grows up in a troubled neighborhood in Miami. It’s a groundbreaking piece of cinematic film that should definitely see some Oscar nominations after the year that we saw as a result of the previous Oscar nominations.

Written and directed by Barry Jenkins and based on a story by Tarell Alvin McCraney, moviegoers are treated to one of the strongest films of 2016. Moonlight features an ensemble cast that includes Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, with Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali.

Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes portray Chiron as he grows up over the course of two decades on screen. Chiron struggles with his sexuality during his teen years. Moonlight shows how moments in our lives can shape our identity and fate. Being transgender, it’s something that I can certainly resonate with…one different move and who knows how my life could have turned out.

“Tarell did a great job of capturing what it felt like to be a poor black kid growing up in the Miami projects,” Jenkins says of the story. “I saw it as an opportunity to get some of my own childhood memories out of my head and onto the screen, filtered through Tarell’s wonderful voice. The root of his experience was also the root of my experience — it was the perfect marriage.”

Both the original piece and the film are rooted around a young boy and a drug dealer in Liberty City. The drug dealer serves as a father figure. In the movie, Chiron has to deal with bullying and having a mother who is addicted to drugs, to name a few.

When the movie opens up, Chiron is 10 and is fleeing from bullies before Juan comes to his rescue. With the help of his girlfriend Teresa, Juan becomes a mentor and unofficial guardian to Chiron. During act 2, Chiron is coming to terms with his sexuality and one wrong move in school changes his life. The third and final act sees Chiron in adulthood and working as a drug dealer. He never really found love but a phone call from childhood friend Kevin brings a reunion.

Jenkin’s screenplay takes coming of age to an entirely new level.

Distributed by A24, Moonlight premiered at the 2016 Telluride Film Festival before opening in limited release on October 21st before gradually expanding through the month of November.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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