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Moonlight (2016)

Moonlight (2016)

Rating: *****

Life is about the journey, but the destination matters, too. “Moonlight” is an epic about humanity in all its pain and beauty and drama and struggle. You’ll cry, and you’ll hope, too. Hope that the strength shown by Chiron, played by three actors in director Barry Jenkins’ masterpiece won’t be needed from children in the future.

What makes “Moonlight” the most important film of 2016 should be painfully obvious. It shows you a boy, then a teenager and then a man shrouded by a stereotype before slowly dismantling it. Chiron isn’t who you think he is.

He’s strong in the truest sense of the word. He’s a survivor. The world sees him as a cockroach, but “Moonlight” sees him as something more. Chiron is a condor: long thought extinct while living right in front of our eyes the entire time.

I love “Moonlight” because it presents us with things we think we already know. We think we get love. We think we get hardship. We think we get what it’s like to be bullied. We think we get stereotyping.

Not like this. Not like Chiron. “Moonlight” is a character study in a way, but more importantly it shows that no one is immediately what meets the eye. As Jenkins moves Chiron forward, the character closes up. Instead of blossoming, the child inside becomes calcified and disappears.

This all happens with the other characters in the film as occasionally concerned bystanders. Mahershala Ali turns in a great performance but his character, though introduced as protector, is reduced to the same helpless state as the audience.

We’re all in this together. Chiron is on his own. Even his tormentors seem absolved of their actions in a way. Everything is happening to Chiron but apart from him. things just happen in the world of “Moonlight,” in a greater, cosmic universe-type way.

Just like the ocean in the finale of the film — the waves keep crashing, but Chiron moves on.

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