Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight casts gritty story in loving light

Moonlight has been generating critical acclaim ever since making its world premiere last month at TIFF.

The much buzzed-about drama hits theatres Friday, giving Canadian audiences a chance to see the movie that The New York Times floated as the best of the year.

Directed by Barry Jenkins, the coming of age feature follows Chiron: a poor and fatherless black boy forced to come to terms with his homosexuality while navigating one of Miami’s roughest ‘hoods.

Moonlight’s intimate and beautiful take on love1:39

Three actors portray Chiron (Trevante Rhodes, Alex Hibbert and Ashton Sanders) as he transforms from a wide-eyed boy into a toughened and conflicted young man.

Universal themes

While the story, based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, covers difficult and emotional territory, it does so gracefully, explains Spectre‘s Naomie Harris, who plays Chiron’s crack-addicted mother.

“I think what’s so beautiful about this film is that, yes, it’s shown from a black perspective — in terms of the characters being black — but they are universal themes,” she tells CBC News. “There is the universal search for identity and for connection and for love.”


Alex Hibbert, left, and Mahershala Ali appear in a scene from Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins. (Elevation Pictures)

For Mahershala Ali, who plays Juan, a drug dealer — yet a much-needed role model for young Chiron — Moonlight portrays the black experience in a critical way.

“[It’s an] opportunity to get to see black people think and to be cerebral,” he said. “You get to see people of colour processing emotion in a way and with the depth of experience that we just haven’t really seen before.”

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