17 March 2017.
There is a captivating alchemy in Moonlight that is quite intangible. It is as delicate as a flower and as powerful as a fist in the stomach. This story of the life of a black man in three stages of his existence – boy, adolescent and man – is a full immersion into Afro-American culture at its most precarious, somewhere in the humid, rough outskirts of Miami. And his evolution takes place within the vicious cycle of a junkie mother, harassment in school, and a tortured search for his sexual identity. But there are also positive characters that somehow guide him like buoys in a turbulent sea.
His story is told with grace and discretion through Barry Jenkins’ measured direction, which starts off with a destabilizing hand-held camera, to probably capture the feelings of the troubled little boy. But it settles down to some of the finest ensemble acting anywhere, along with a magnificent sound track that perfectly defines the varied moods. The performances of Mahershala Ali (Oscar for best supporting actor) as a minor drug lord who takes the boy under his wing, Naomie Harris as his helpless mother, or Trevante Rhodes as the pumped-up adult are all superb. The last scenes in the diner and after, where Rhodes’ character seems to find his place in life alongside an old friend, are of an intensity that simply takes one’s breath away. And so it took the 2017 Oscar for Best Film.
Black cinema has arrived with a vengeance this past year, with such outstanding films as “Hidden Figures”, about exceptional women in NASA, “Loving”, about a mixed couple fighting for their marriage, “United Kingdom”, about an African King torn between his country and his white wife, and the devastating documentary “I am not Your Negro”, from James Baldwin’s writings on the killings of black leaders. All of them true stories.
And not to forget the brilliance of the past years’ “Selma”, “12 Years a Slave” or Tarantino’s wild “Django Unchained”, amongst many others.
It’s about time, and of vital importance in a world searching for some sort of justice and equality for all…
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.