The myth that there isn’t a big enough market for films that deal directly with African-American experiences should hopefully take a hammer blow with this sumptuously-made examination of three periods in the life of a gay black man growing up in Miami and gradually finding his identity. It’s a deep and rich piece of writing, based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s drama school theatre piece In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, with a truly profound screenplay that shines a much-needed light on lives that mainstream American cinema too often ignores.

A fine cast keep everything rooted in something believable and human, with Naomie Harris avoiding what could have been a clich├ęd part and the astonishing Mahershala Ali showing extraordinary depth in just a handful of scenes. The director Barry Jenkins and his DP James Laxton deserve enormous credit for presenting a low-key, fairly reserved story with such extraordinary visual style. Using separate filters, colour-grades and palette choices for each of the film’s three parts make this a feast for the eyes while its powerful themes of poverty, homosexuality and African-American identity are being explored.

MOONLIGHT
A mainstream film depicting the realistic sensitivities of a gay black man8
Barry Jenkins' and Tyrell Alvin McCraney's rich, multi-layered screenplay masterclass9
Naomie Harris taking a role that could have been stereotypical and making it human and real8
Mahershala Ali provoking remarkable sympathy with a beautifully subtle turn9
The visual palettes constructed by Jenkins and cinematographer James Laxton8
Bechdel Test passes
  • Features more than one named female character
Bechdel test failures
  • None of the named female characters talk to each other
8Overall Score

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