Review: Moonlight (2016)

Beautiful and devastating.

I love being in the hands of a good film-maker – one who understands the power of, and what can be done with, its elements: from understanding and eliciting what actors are capable of, to letting the camera linger long enough to really absorb every nuance from their performances; from cutting only just when we’ve savoured the myriad messages within each shot, to sound design that regulates the viewer’s pulse.

And yet, for such heavy subject matter, the film-making here has an incredibly light touch, choosing to look long at and linger on the people and scenes until their beauty becomes intoxicating. It’s a ’90s art house film in its themes, storytelling and film-making style.

The performances are all beautiful, and tenderly captured by James Laxton‘s breathtaking cinematography (more on that at the very end of this entry).

I wonder how this movie would play in the kind of neighbourhoods it’s set in – whether progressiveness in mainstream cinema culture actually affects the neighbourhoods, the schools, the people in this story?


Further viewing

Director Barry Jenkins on being an ally:

Actors Trevante Rhodes and Andre Holland on the chemistry between their characters:

And, perhaps most devastating, actor Ashton Sanders on why he can’t watch the film with an audience:


Cinematography

Image: Moonlight / Color Palette Cinema

“Listening, watching, reacting and feeling”: Cinematographer James Laxton talks to TIFF about using available light and eye levels to create the stunning intimacy in Moonlight:

In this profile on Spotlight, Laxton reveals how each third of the film is distinguished by its own colour grade and unique LUT:

Further Reading: