“Moonlight” received a strong response at the Telluride Film Festival. Before a screening, stage director and Telluride regular Peter Sellars effusively praised the film and its treatment of a rare subject.
This film’s writer/director Barry Jenkins had first been to Telluride as part of the student program and returned as a volunteer. Jenkins joked that it was “eight fucking years” since his first film “Medicine for Melancholy”.
“Moonlight” is a uniformly well-acted film about Chiron, an African-American boy living in Miami with his crack-addicted mother (Naomie Harris, James Bond’s current Moneypenny).
Chiron, a lonely silent boy (Alex R. Hibbert) is befriended by Juan (Mahershala Ali, “House of Cards”) who becomes a supportive father-figure. Juan’s girlfriend (Janelle Monae) welcomes Chiron into her home whenever he wants to stay in a less stressful environment. Juan’s relationship is complicated as he is a drug dealer for Chiron’s mother.
The film is based on a play by Tarell McCraney. Both McCraney and Jenkins grew up in Miami with mothers having a crack problem. Harris is extremely vivid as a woman under the ravages of addiction.
Chiron tries to figure out why he feels different from others. He grows into a bullied teenager (Ashton Sanders) who explores his homosexuality.
“Moonlight” is compelling and often poignant, written and directed with sensitivity by Barry Jenkins. A reunion between a very different young adult Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) and Kevin (Andre Holland), his sole boyhood friend, is particularly effective.