Dir. Barry Jenkins. Cast: Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, Alex Hibbert, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Janalle Monae.
111 Mins, 2016, USA
Moonlight and the sea play powerful parts in this tender story about growing up poor, black and gay in Miami in the 1990s; three actors – Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes – brilliantly portray the boy (known as Little), the teenager (Chiron) and the grown man (Black). The supporting cast, especially Mahershala Ali as Juan the drug dealer who rescues Little from his tormentors and Naomie Harris, mother of the boy and one of Juan’s customers, is excellent.
Despite requiring a small suspension of disbelief – would a major drugs dealer in the 1990s tell a small boy, ‘a faggot is a bad word for a gay person?’ – this three-act drama is utterly emotionally credible. The scenes in the central section when Chiron becomes the target for a school bully and his cronies are harrowing.
Sad, moving and haunting.