After the scandalous dearth of nominated films by black directors or performances by black actors at last year’s Oscars, there have been a number of films this year that have had due recognition. It is true to say that Moonlight is the one that has taken American critics by storm and it won Best Film at the Oscar ceremony in February and had already won a Golden Globe for Best Drama. Mahershala Ali won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. We are delighted to be able to show it so soon after its UK release.
It is the tender, heartbreaking story of a young man’s struggle to find himself, as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love, while grappling with his own sexuality. Although Barry Jenkins’ film is indeed about the struggles and difficulties of a person embracing his culturally reviled sexuality, the story is universal in scope and intent. Moonlight is about poverty, intolerance, the battle to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and love. One doesn’t have to be gay or black or male to empathize with Chiron’s battles.
Moonlight is essentially three short stories woven into a larger tapestry. Each features the same protagonist but at different times of his life and played by a different actor: child, teenager, man. Certain supporting characters cross from one story to another; others do not. It’s like life. The people we know and are close to during one period might not be the same during another. It might be possible to watch each of Moonlight’s episodes as stand-alones but the movie gains impact by following the progression and depth of the character through all three segments. The whole is unquestionably more than the sum of its parts.
Moonlight boasts a true ensemble cast. Three talented actors share the main character’s role and the supporting parts are filled by experienced actors and newcomers, all of whom are good fits for their characters. There’s not a weak portrayal to be found and some of the performers who come with ‘baggage’ (Mahershala Ali as Remy in House of Cards and Naomie Harris as Moneypenny in the Daniel Craig Bonds) are able to put aside those encumbrances. Equally important is that the three Chirons, Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders and Alex Hibbert blend seamlessly so we never doubt we’re watching the same character at different ages.
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Venue: William Loveless Hall