First Reviews: Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight”

Following a solid debut with “Medicine for Melancholy,” filmmaker Barry Jenkins returns with the drama “Moonlight” – a triptych that looks at the life of a young gay black man in Florida. We’ve had numerous films score rave reviews so far from the festivals, but none have been as gushing as this and the film holds a perfect 100/100 on Metacritic – something I can’t recall ever seeing before. Check out the excerpts from some reviews below:

“Moonlight takes on the quality of an Ian McEwan story, showing how a single moment of intimacy, however doomed or blissful, can come to shape an entire life. Jenkins deftly, insightfully meditates on the fraught intersection of black masculinity and homosexuality, while also giving his film the quiet murmur of something mythic and elemental…” – Vanity Fair

“”Black” isn’t just a race, community, or color, but one of three names by which a sexually conflicted young South Florida man allows himself to be called in a film that’s ultimately about taking control of one’s own identity. That’s exactly what Jenkins himself is doing by delivering a film so firmly committed to capturing the black experience, resulting in a socially conscious work of art as essential as it is insightful. A natural extension of his garrulous San Francisco-set debut, “Medicine for Melancholy,” the director’s beautifully nuanced, subtext-rich second feature is no less intellectually engaged, but proves far more trusting in audiences’ ability to read between the lines…” – Variety

“Barry Jenkins’ astonishing new film is both proudly black and refreshingly queer. It’s a thrilling, deeply necessary work that opens up a much-needed and rarely approached on-screen conversation about the nature of gay masculinity. But Jenkins doesn’t pull any punches in showing the crushing loneliness and horrific violence of being a gay man in a culture where homosexuality is seen as a weakness. We see the visible and invisible scars that develop from a lack of acceptance and by the time we finally meet adult Chiron, played with incredible nuance by ex-athlete Trevante Rhodes, he’s trapped by his own desire, regulating his behaviour to remove anything that could be seen as ‘gay’…” – The Guardian

“Jenkins and McCraney have artfully cobbled together something that is impressionistic and wondrous, like a compendium of half-remembered memories, tinged by sadness. ‘Moonlight’ is not a public service announcement or a cry for help. It doesn’t fetishize Chiron’s pain, as so many pieces of contemporary American cinema do. It’s a humanist film; it’s about people, and it’s got a pulse. It presents characters as idiosyncratic, domineering, but mostly fearful — timid creatures ambling through life in the hopes of finding refuge…” – The Wrap

“Such an eye-opening entry in the ever-neglected arena of black cinema arrives at a critical moment – the tail-end of the Obama era, when diversity has become a keyword and discussions of racial turmoil have reached a fever pitch. “Moonlight” transforms rage and frustration into unadulterated intimacy. In this mesmerizing portrait of a suffocating world, the only potential catharsis lies in acknowledging it as Chiron so deeply wishes he could. Despite the somber tone, “Moonlight” is a beacon of hope for the prospects of speaking up…” – Indiewire

“Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight pulls you into its introspective protagonist’s world from the start and transfixes throughout as it observes, with uncommon poignancy and emotional perceptiveness, his roughly two-decade path to find a definitive answer to the question, “Who am I?” While the fundamental nature of that central question gives this exquisite character study universality, the film also brings infinite nuance and laser-like specificity to its portrait of African-American gay male experience, which resonates powerfully in the era of Black Lives Matter…” – THR

“Like “Brokeback Mountain” a decade ago, “Moonlight” is a piece of art that will transform lives long after it leaves theaters. Those who will be changed by the picture may not see it on the big screen. They may even have to see it in secret. But when they do. When they watch Chiron have that first kiss, when he can be himself for just an instance in a world that oppresses him? It will be everything…” – The Playlist