WORTH A LOOK?: ***
OUT IN THE UK: 17/2
The audience at the BFI preview screening we’re in bursts into a spontaneous round of applause at the end of this film but we were left wondering whether Moonlight is as good as the plaudits it has received.
- Read on for reasons including why we don’t think Moonlight will win big at the Oscars
Moonlight has been nominated for eight Oscars on 26/2 and is perhaps the perfect riposte to the #OscarsSoWhite criticism that has dogged the ceremony in recent years.
Divided into three chapters, it is the story of a son of a drug addict, bullied at school, growing up gay in Miami. Those three chapters show Chiron as a boy, teenager and finally as a man and are given the titles Little (a nickname); Chiron; and Black (another nickname).
Chiron is played by actors Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes respectively in those chapters and in the first the fatherless Chiron is taken under the wing of a drug dealer (House of Cards‘ Mahershala Ali, as sensitive here) and his girlfriend Janelle Monae (used better in the Oscar nominated Hidden Figures).
The best thing about Moonlight is the performance of Naomie Harris as Chiron’s drug-addicted mother who is terrifying, not least when she is begging her teenage son for money to maintain her habit.
What’s unusual about it is that it’s an extremely sensitive portrayal of a black man growing up gay and we can’t help but feel for Chiron as he goes to kiss his best friend, events spiral out of control but there is an opportunity for redemption in the final act.
We’ve seen Moonlight described as poetry and assume this is code for the thin story. What it lacks in plot, it more than makes up for in atmosphere, heartbreak and emotion but we think it might struggle to convert its nominations into wins come 26/2.
It is, however, exactly the sort of film Hollywood should be making more of and well worth its applause for that reason alone.