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'Moonlight' is the standout film of 2016

Rating: ★★★★★

"Moonlight," is a three-part act film that follows a young African American man from his early youth into adulthood. This character battles his sexual identity while trying to survive growing up in the projects of Miami. His mother Paula (Naomi Harris) is little help as she is deep into an addiction to crack and there is no father in sight.

“Moonlight” is strikingly different from any other film in 2016 as it intimately tells a story that is founded on the real lives of many young men in our country. The film explores universal themes while remaining centered on the story at hand.

“Moonlight” features three fine young actors playing the role of Chiron at different ages. Playing Chiron as a young boy is Alex R. Hibbert. This young actor, in his first film role, already shows a promising career as an actor. Being the first actor to portray Chiron, Alex is giving the task of bringing the audience into the story and become invested in the story. He does so in the most convincingly way.

Ashton Saunders plays Chiron as a teenager of little words, but of great emotions. His strength of an actor is evident especially, when his character Chiron has an epiphany that changes the course of his future.

And completing the role of Chiron is Trevante Rhodes. When Rhodes enters the film, we see the choices Chiron has made after his decision to fight back at a world that had brought him so much pain. It a surprising turn of the film, but one person is Chiron’s past brings him back to have a second chance at all his life choices. And it brings us all hope for a happy life for Chiron.

Noteworthy, for a standout performance is that of Naomi Harris as Chiron’s crack-addicted mother. Harris spent a mere three days on set, yet her performance is the glue to the keeping the story together throughout the film. I expect Harris to receive quite a bit of attention during award season for her extraordinary performance.

“Moonlight” boasts a multi-layered screenplay written by Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney. The film is based on McCraney’s own personal life. The film is also directed by Barry Jenkins who made elegant and effervescent choices that made “Moonlight,” a treat visually. Included in the beautiful look of the film was the cinematography by Jason Laxton.

Ultimately, “Moonlight” is a very personal movie that will grab you by the heart. It is a sensual and provocative movie that does not depend on graphic images to tell the story, which I must say was a surprising choice that makes “Moonlight,” even a more of a standout film.

“Moonlight” is rated R for some sexuality, drug use, brief violence, and language throughout and has a run-time of one hour and 51 minutes.

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