Moonlight (Advanced Screening) Review

Inspirational Movie Monday(On A Wednesday, breaking all the rules) – The story of a young mans life from boyhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world.

“At some point, you’ve got to decide for yourself who you gonna be. And let nobody make that decision.”

Release Date: November 11, 2016

I don’t know much about this movie, except for the random trailer I saw one evening on YouTube. I thought the movie sounded and looked very interesting. I jumped at the opportunity to win an advanced screening to go see it to see what all the hype was about coming out of the TIFF this year and theres been a couple people who I follow on Instagram that have posted reviews for it, so I wanted to see what the fuss was about. Moonlight turned out to be one of the most important movies I have seen in 2016.

Moonlight is a Drama film about human connection and self-discovery. The film follows the life of Chiron, a young black man, from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighbourhood in Miami.

This already sounds like the beginning of an Inspirational Movie Monday post, from just the synopsis of the film alone. I’m definitely counting it, so it’ll be cross listed as such. This movie gave me the feels, and filled me with emotion. This movie is about finding your own path through life, but being shaped by what you’re surrounded by, and being influenced by those who are close to you. I felt similar to Chiron in some ways, and I’ve definitely been changed for the better, choosing my own path in life, being influenced significantly by those I love on a constant basis, whether thats my family, my best friend who may as well be a sister to me, and my friends.

Moonlight is directed and co-written by Barry Jenkins, who is a name I’ve never heard of before I saw this movie or looked it up on IMDb. His filmography consists of such films as Medicine for Melancholy (2008); he wrote and directed it and it  sounds super interesting – and Moonlight was his only other film. He also has one other film thats in production right now called A Contract with God, which at this point in time has an unknown release date. I’m extremely intrigued to go back and watch his other film and then wait in anticipation for his next film. For being a director I’ve never heard of, he had all the style and substance of a director whose been in the business for a lifetime. He did the weird camera techniques I like, he was able to create tension and emotion using camera angles, and it was able to really make it kind of like a documentary. The film was broken up into 3 chapters of Chiron’s life – Chapter 1: Little (where we see him as a young boy), Chapter 2: Chiron (Where we see him as a teenaged boy) and then Chapter 3: Black (Where we see him as an adult). I thought it was a very unique touch to do a film in this way, and what was really crazy to me, is that – all the actors who played him were different actors, but they all shared the same mannerisms as the others, it was honestly like Jenkin’s decided to do what Boyhood (2014) tried to do, and followed around one boys life from his toddler days to his young adult days, I felt like I was watching the same guy, even though I knew it was a different actor. It takes a very skilled director and a very skilled set of actors to be able to accomplish what they did.

The film stars Alex R. Hibbert, Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes and Mahershala Ali. Mahershala Ali played Juan, I’ve never heard of until writing this review, but I know I’ve seen some of his films. His filmography consists of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Predators (2010), Treme TV Series (2011-2012), The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and 2 (2014-2015), House of Cards TV Series (2013-2016), Free State of Jones (2016) and Luke Cage TV Series (2016). For whatever reason I can’t picture his characters in the movies in his filmography that I have seen.

Alex R. Hibbert played Little, this was his feature film debut. He was really captivating, Hibbert is going to be something one day, but for now his acting in this was superb.

Janelle Monae plays Teresa. I’m not too familiar with her work, but she starred in Rio 2 (2014). She did a fantastic job in this movie, like really wonderful. It was always a pleasure when there was a scene with her in it.

Naomie Harris played Chiron’s mother Paula. I think she is the most well known actress in this film, at least for me. I didn’t know her name prior to looking up her IMDb page, but after scanning through I definitely have seen a lot of her films. Her filmography consists of 28 Days Later… (2002), Miami Vice (2006), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), Street Kings (2008), Skyfall (2012), Southpaw (2015), and Spectre (2015). I thought this film was a crazy departure from the roles I’m used to seeing her play, and I think thats why I enjoyed her character so much, but I also hated her at the same time. I don’t want to ruin anything from the story, so you’ll have to see for yourselves!

Ashton Sanders played Chiron in his teen years. His filmography consists of The Retrieval (2013) andStraight Outta Compton (2015). I felt like Sanders did an absolutely fantastic job really getting into the mind of the character and really devoting himself to the role. I was just blown away by his acting and I really was able to reside with his version of the character emotionally, especially with the bullying that happened to him in high school.

Trevante Rhodes played Black, the adult version of Chiron. His filmography consists of The Night Is Young (2015), Westworld TV series (looks like to be one episode) and If Loving You Is Wrong TV series (2014-). I also felt like Rhodes did an excellent job playing Chiron, I can’t get over how great he was.

In all honesty though, the acting in this movie was absolutely amazing. I like going into a film I don’t know much about, and stay blind to most things about it, and then coming out just wowed. Thats exactly what this movie did, I saw one trailer and some publicity from a couple different sources about it, which really raised my desire to see it. And I’m super glad I did.

The soundtrack was also very interesting, in the younger years it was more classical, more transcendent music, it almost was like it was meant to be a dream in a sense, or you know carefree. In the teen years it started to be a bit more bass-oriented, and rap, I felt like this was to show character development, as if Chiron was changing into someone else. And finally, the adult years was basically all rap music, until one scene which I won’t ruin. The soundtrack was superb, and deserves to be talked about.

People always complain that theres no originality left in Hollywood, which is absolutely bogus and this film is the proof. Go out of your comfort zone and go support these types of films! You’ve been missing out on such great films and amazing stories.

This whole movie was a journey of a life. This lifetime was full of ups and downs, emotions and feelings…what a journey it was.

Moonlight gets a 5/5 from me, it was just a brilliantly told, brilliantly acted and wonderfully directed story, that I think is one of the most important films to see in 2016.

I thought this movie was so good, that I think its definitely going to be nominated for some oscars.

My predictions are:

Best Director – Barry Jenkins

Best Actor – In a perfect world, all 3 of the men who played Chiron. But Trevante Rhodes or Ashton Sanders.


Screenplay – Barry Jenkins

Until Next Time, Stay Inspired!



I will be attending a screening of Bad Santa 2 on November 21st – there will be a review as always that evening, and I entered a contest to win passes to go see Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, so hopefully I’ll have a review of that up for you!

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