Image by David Bornfriend, courtesy of A24.
Moonlight (October 21)
Moonlight, the second feature film by Barry Jenkins, addresses a plethora of challenging issues, from sexuality and masculinity to racism, poverty, and drug abuse. Its beauty, sensitivity, and tenderness toward its characters, however, make even the harshest scenes eminently watchable. The film follows Chiron, a black boy growing up in the urban sprawl of ’90s Miami, as he slowly and painfully comes to terms with his queer identity. Jenkins weaves a masterful visual narrative, reusing iconic images and motifs throughout the film’s three acts. The effect is comprehensive: In seeing three separate car rides, three separate beachside encounters, three romantic (or proto-romantic) assignations, and three sets of references to the color blue, the viewer is able to chart Chiron’s development from quiet child to awkward, bullied teen to scarred adult. Beyond being a visually stunning work, Moonlight is a triumph in its refusal to pigeonhole its characters. Blue (Mahershala Ali) can be a tender father figure to Chiron yet still supply the drugs that ravage his mother; Kevin (portrayed by André Holland and Jharrel Jerome) can love Chiron despite betraying him. Moonlight is a film that withholds judgment, instead delving into the complexities that inevitably crop up when race, poverty, and sexuality intersect.