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Moonlight

Barry Jenkins

Few films from the last 20 years feel as indicative of changes within the cinematic landscape as Moonlight. It is a rare thing indeed to experience a film which shines a light on people and places often ignored by mainstream cinema and yet know that it will touch anyone who comes to see it, simply because it is beautifully told and its themes are universal in their humanity, and it is rarer still for such a film to be recognised as Best Picture by the Academy. Moonlight, the story of one black man’s struggle for identity on the tough inner-city streets of Miami, is that film, and it is a masterpiece.

"Just as special now as it was when it was first released." 

Based on a story by playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney and directed by Barry Jenkins, Moonlight is told in three parts, with different actors taking on the role of lead character Chiron as he goes through childhood, adolescence and adulthood. From the beginning, it is clear that life is hard for this young boy growing up in Miami. Nicknamed ‘Little’, he is bullied at school and his home life with single-mom Paula (Naomie Harris), a nurse teetering on the verge of drug addiction, is fraught. Against this backdrop though, Chiron does encounter kindness and rare moments of joy in his relationships with local big man Juan (an Oscar-winning turn from Mahershala Ali) and classmate Kevin. With each significant time shift, we discover just how these experiences have shaped his life.

Jenkins, who grew up on the very streets where Moonlight was shot, has created a film which is audacious in both storytelling and visual style, yet feels utterly authentic. The ensemble cast, including Ashton Sanders, Alex Hibbert and Trevante Rhodes, who play Chiron at different ages, is uniformly excellent. The awards and accolades are almost superfluous; Moonlight succeeds entirely on its own terms, and is just as special now as it was when it was first released.  

Screening as part of our #DCA20 birthday festivities - see any two films in the selection for the price of one when you book together!