“… a movie that is very important, but one that didn’t resonate with me on a personal level.”
Ever since its release people have been talking about how important Moonlight is as a movie, and I get it. Moonlight features one of the most under-represented groups in Hollywood, the black community, and then further segments that group to tell the story of a young black man who knows from a young age that he is gay. To give this very real, but very hidden minority a voice in a movie is great, but for that movie to actually be good makes this an outstanding achievement. And watching the movie, and even looking back I can expect that it is an important movie. And it’s not one that I regret watching at all, but do you know how you can look at something and appreciate it without that thing connecting with you? That’s what Moonlight was like for me.
Moonlight tells a very real, very important story and it does so in a way that feels almost insultingly real. It does its best to not hide anything, really showing the audience the truth of the matter for people who live lives like this every day. Its tough to get through at times, but it is also a movie where you can’t look away.
I just have to stop this review and apologize if it reads as scatterbrained as I think it does. I’m not in a very good headspace at the moment, but I feel I have to write out my thoughts regardless.
Either way one thing I loved about Moonlight was the character of Juan played by Mahershala Ali, but who didn’t? One thing I did wish is that Ali had a bigger part in the movie, and this is only becasue its obvious that his character had a huge impact on the main character’s life but his time in the film was so brief. It just seemed to accentuate the fact that we missed so much of the main character’s life in off-screen moments, and in my opinion that kind of detracted from some of the movie. I will also say that the movie did slow down a lot after the chapter with Juan ended. It felt like the movie lacked a driving force, and instead turned into a kid trying to survive. Of course this is what the film is about, but to me it was missing that point when Juan was no longer a part of the film. I will praise Moonlight for the realism, especially in how the characters grew up. Not only did everyone keep a realistic appearance throughout the film (which is tough unless you do Boyhood style shit), but the mannerisms also stayed consistent and really helped with the immersion.
Now the one thing, really the only thing I disliked about Moonlight was the direction. Now I say disliked, but my feelings are much more complicated. I respect what Barry Jenkins was going for with the direction in Moonlight, with almost exclusively handheld shots to accentuate the chaos and reality of the content of the film. This creates really beautiful and picturesque moments, but I would go so far as to say that Jenkins overdoes it at times. Never in my life have I felt motion sick during a movie until I watched Moonlight. And this includes all of the found footage horror movies I watched. Like this movie gave Cloverfield a run for its money in the queasy department. It just made the film super disorienting and annoying at times, which I guess you could argue was the intention but to me it seems counter-productive.
Overall Moonlight is a movie that is very important, but one that didn’t resonate with me on a personal level. Everything about this movie apart form the direction is flawless, and the direction is almost there but there are some things that didn’t sit right with me.
I give Moonlight a B