Moonlight

 
We follow the taciturn hero of Barry Jenkins' amazingly affective film Moonlight from roughly age 8 to 26, as he is battered physically by neighborhood bullies, emotionally by his drug-addled mother and psychologically by his own queer identity. Each of the actors playing the lead -- who variously goes by Little (Alex Hibbert), Chiron (Ashton Sanders) and Black (Trevante Rhodes) -- are uncannily expressive despite collectively delivering less than two pages of dialogue during the film's 2 hour run. Their eyes, their sloping shoulders, skittish response to physical contact and their silences speak powerfully of their disconnection from life and of the soul-deadening effect of the Liberty City projects. Early in the film, the boy Little is befriended by a drug dealer named Juan (an Oscar-worthy Mahershala Ali) and his girlfriend (Janelle Monae), who feed and shelter him when the boy's mother (a terrific Naomie Harris) runs him off so that she can consort with a boyfriend or fire up crack rock, which, coincidentally, she buys from Juan. Through those caring surrogates the boy begins to feel worthy of love though his journey to self-acceptance is by no means assured. It is that uncertainty (possibility?) that makes Jenkins' film so resonant, as resonant as it is beautiful. Highly recommended.

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