Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Moonlight - Movie Review: A Story in Three Parts


Maybe I watched a different movie than all of the critics praising this film.

Moonlight: Starring Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes and directed by Barry Jenkins. These actors are the three individuals who play the main character of the film during three different time periods of the character’s life. We see the character, Chiron who also goes by Little and Black, at three different crucial times in his life and how those events shape the person he is to eventually become. It is an ambitious film and one which has been garnering major praise from critics. The film is well acted, well shot, has a compelling story, but lacked an overall connected narrative.

The three actors who play the main character all do a good to great job in portraying Chiron. It wasn’t hard to believe each actor was the same person during the time hops. The child actor was good in the role. He wasn’t Jake Tremblay in Room good, but good nonetheless. Big story elements for the character however seemed forced into the narrative during this cross section of his life rather than letting it naturally develop. If the story was able to develop all in one-time period, the character traits revealed would have seemed more natural to the story overall. Having the story told in small cross section of the character’s life is an interesting way to construct the film, but in the end each small story wasn’t enough to stand on its own and weekend the film overall.

The child portion of the story wasn’t really needed for the main narrative of the film. The movie could have started with the adolescent character and established many of the same elements during the younger portion of the character’s life. Barry Jenkins could have cut out the younger portion or shortened it and focused on other character traits during the adolescent portion of the story. There is one major reveal during the young portion of the film which seemed out of left field and wasn’t needed during this portion of the story. It could have been established during the teen years of the story to be more effective. The story overall is interesting and the character empathetic, but it just didn’t have the amount of impact if it had been told in a different way.

I haven’t read many other reviews for the movie, but many critics have the film as one of the best of the year and saying it will be in contention for best picture. It is the main reason I decided to go see Moonlight, but I was disappointed in how the story and film were executed overall. I can see why the film is receiving high praise for the subject it deals with. It’s a topic and subject which should be looked at and explored, but the execution of the story in Moonlight was lacking. For me the story was interesting, but the way it was implemented did not have me engaged. If each of the narratives had told the stories in a slightly different way it could have been excellent.

Saying that, many people felt the film was excellent. It currently sits at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes with 177 fresh reviews and three rotten. I wouldn’t give the film a Rotten rating if I were to give it a number score, but it would just make the fresh meter instead of rotten. Maybe many of the critics do feel this way, but from what I’m seeing many think the film has a shot at best picture. For me there are numerous other worthy contenders this year. I’m in the firm minority on this one, but the film didn’t tell the story in a compelling way which made me invested in the character. If we got more time with any one of the three stories told in part, I think it would have helped the film immensely.

Those are my thoughts on Moonlight, comment and let me know what you think if you have seen it. Like share subscribe and all that fun stuff. 

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