Recently, I have been thinking about how child actors don’t always resemble the appearance of their characters as an adult. In Moonlight, one of the year’s best films, the actors playing both Chiron and Kevin in three stages of their lives are so convincing I felt they were recorded over the span of years like the 2014 movie Boyhood.
Set in Miami, he movie starts when a shy, skinny 9-year-old Chiron (aka “Little”) (Alex Hibbert) is chased by bullies and is later found by a drug dealer named Juan (Mahershala Ali). He kind of takes him under his wing (as does his girlfriend Teresa, played by Janelle Monae. We see how this shapes Chiron the rest of the movie, along with his drug addicted mom (Naomie Harris, who deserves Oscar consideration for Best Supporting Actress). The only real spark of hope is Chiron’s life is his friend Kevin (at age nine, he is played by Jaden Piner). Eventually, he beens to question his place in the world.
As mentioned, there are three acts in this movie. In order, Chiron is played by Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes. It is as if all three actors had a long meeting together, and decided on how to play each section of Chiron’s life. The same can be said for Kevin, who is played by Piner, Jharrell Jerome, and Andre Holland. The acting in this film is superb. The acting proves that not all great performances are just by dialogue. It is also with a look of an eye, or the posture of one’s body. Each interaction between the characters are as real and authentic as any you will see in a film this year.
Parents, the movie is not for kids. There is a lot of swearing and a bit of violence. There is also a bit of sexuality (some of it homosexuality). Basically, the R rating is justified.
There are times where the film seems to drag, but Moonlight is certainly one you will hear around Oscar time. Hopefully, the “Oscars so white” will be demolished with the help of this film.
Overall: Four Stars ****