Film Review – Moonlight (2016)

by Nick Kush

As we immerse ourselves further into the award season, Moonlight is another film that deserves recognition.  The following review will be spoiler free.  As always, be sure to comment at the bottom of the page with your own thoughts to get the conversation going!


Moonlight is directed by Barry Jenkins and stars Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevonte Rhodes all playing the role of Chiron at different points of his life.

The story follows Chiron from his youth to adulthood as we see his upbringing in a very tough, urban neighborhood as he’s picked on by other local kids and deals with his drug addict mother.  Throughout moments of his life, we see how Chiron deals with such hardships as he questions his sexuality in a cultural setting where his thoughts are very frowned upon by many people.

Image result for moonlight movie

image via The New York Times


Moonlight was another one of those movies that got a ton of buzz at the major film festivals that has slowly expanded the amount of screens on which it’s showing.  As I’m writing this review, Moonlight currently sits at a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is pretty unbelievable.  Liked I mentioned in my review for The Edge of Seventeen, people can really gravitate towards a well made coming of age story.  We all go through struggles in the early years of our lives, no matter where we grow up or what socioeconomic class we are born into as a child.  Great depictions of people in film conquering these struggles or even just learning from their experiences can really resonate with an audience.

A movie like Moonlight can be very important culturally as well.  The movie has an entirely black cast.  There has definitely been a lot of outrage over the lack of recognition of predominantly black-casted movie at the Oscars with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite trending every late February.  If a movie such as Moonlight were to be worthy of awards and be snubbed at the Oscars, it would mean another setback in a very worthy cause.

What I Liked

After viewing Moonlight, it has become abundantly clear that this film should get a ton of praise during the awards season.  This may be one of the best movies of the year.

Every single performance in Moonlight is spot on.  I kept looking for a moment or scene that would fall flat due to less than stellar acting, but I came up with absolutely nothing as the credits started rolling.  Every actor is on the top of their game.  Some notable standouts (other than the three actors who play Chiron) are Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris.  Ali, who you may have seen in the Luke Cage Netflix series as Cornell Stokes, acts as a father figure to Chiron in his early years.  Until Chiron learns of Juan’s (Ali) troubles, Juan is a steady hand in his tumultuous childhood.  Ali’s performance is very subdued, yet very kind and nurturing.

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image via The MacGuffin

What I Liked…Continued

Naomie Harris, on the other hand, is harrowing as Chiron’s drug addicted mother.  Harris will undoubtedly get consideration for best supporting actress at the Oscars for her work.  She’s incredibly despicable throughout the movie.  You hate her for everything she does to Chiron.  Her portrayal of such a character was so frightening that you could swear that she wasn’t even acting.

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image via Hollywood Reporter

I will qualify my positive review by saying that Moonlight is not for every moviegoer.  The film is purposely slow in its pacing and will bore some people.  It takes it time in every scene, making sure to set up each character and give very realistic dialogue and motives to every person which to some may feel like it’s very slow and plodding.

In the same vein, the word describe Moonlight as a whole is most definitely realistic.  You feel that as you watch the three acts of this movie that you were watching real life play out.  There’s nothing “Hollywoodized” about Moonlight, it’s very raw and impactful in its realism.  You feel as if you are a fly on the wall viewing someone grow up before your eyes.

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image via Daily Hive

What I Liked…Continued…Continued

Upon first leaving the theater, I felt myself somewhat letdown by Moonlight.  I felt that the ending fell a little flat and that the movie didn’t live up to the hype that many critics has laid out for the rest of us.  However, this movie stuck with me long after I left the theaters.  The more I thought about this movie, the more I began to realize how good this movie actually is.  Everything about this movie is so subtle that you can easily dismiss it if you don’t pay close attention.  Every moment in this movie is pays off in the end and leads to a beautiful portrayal of one man’s difficulties in his urban setting.

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image via Variety


As a whole, Moonlight is a quiet, beautiful film that explores the growth of a person unlike we’ve seen before.  Moonlight gets an A+.  This movie should receive the praise it deserves for tackling such poignant topics as sexuality and self-discovery within a group of people that does not get enough study in film.


Thanks for reading!  Have you seen Moonlight?  What are your thoughts on the movie?  Comment down below!

What should I review next?  Whether it’s old or new, the choice is up to you!

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Carrie February 25, 2017 - 3:24 am

I saw it last October when it was showing on London film fest. The “pure perfection” review just came out at that time which kind of made it this year’s Boyhood. So I was really excited about it. I didn’t know it was about homosexuality. It actually caught me off guard a bit. I mean I’ve got no problem with this topic and Carol was my favourite movie of 2015. I just think that this movie was kinda…lost, yet still asking the audience to be politically correct. Like if I say I don’t like this movie, would you think that it’s just because I’m being racist and homophobic? Let me put it this way, I would still LOVE My Own Private Idaho and Brokeback mountain if they were portrayed by black people. I loved Hidden Figures too. It’s about the story, and the way he tells it…I just can’t feel it. The cinematography was spectacular. And ironically that’s the only thing I can remember about the movie. Alright I prob need to see it one more time…Sorry if I offended you or anything!

MovieBabble February 25, 2017 - 3:40 am

Lol not offended! I could see that point of view. I didn’t write my review of Moonlight right away which turned out to be a good thing since it grew on me the more I thought about it. You might have also just been let down by hearing all the buzz surrounding it! I went into it kind of blind without knowing much

MovieManJackson December 15, 2016 - 3:54 pm

What’s burned into my head after viewing are so many of the scenes/images. Like the third act car ride back to the old friend’s place, or the schoolyard incident, or even just the closeups of various character’s faces.

One of the best, no doubt. It should garner tons of Oscar love, and deservedly so, just because it is a great film, not because of #OscarsSoWhite (hated that “movement”) backlash.

MovieBabble December 15, 2016 - 3:57 pm

I totally agree!


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