Straight out of the festival circuit, this movie has received an insane amount of praise and awards attention. But while I understand where the praise is coming from, I can’t help but feel that Moonlight is just a tad overrated.
The first two acts of this film are very well done, focusing on the main character as a child and teenager. We see the struggle that someone in his situation might go through, and director Barry Jenkins does a great job at putting us into his skin. There are a number of very powerful moments.
But by the time the film reaches the last third, when the character is an adult, it seems to has lost some of it’s steam. There seems to be less of a plot in that final section, which many critics probably liked, but for me, it just felt aimless.
Also, I didn’t care for the ending. The ending of a film is very important to get right, because that’s the taste that’s left in your mouth when you leave the theater. But this film doesn’t end on a powerful note, it just… stops. And we’re left wondering, ‘That’s it?’
One thing I found to be very interesting was the use of cinematography in the film. There’s not a lot of beautiful images, but the cleverness comes from deciding when to point the camera at something, and when not to. It’s kind of hard to explain, but this film has a very good understanding of “show, don’t tell.”
Naomie Harris is the MVP of the film. She cements herself as an absolute lock for Best Supporting Actress, and deservedly so. Mahershala Ali is also incredibly good, but he’s only in the film for the first third. Time will tell if that will lead to an Oscar nomination.
In fact, the ensemble as a whole is absolutely incredible. I think the casting department did an amazing job finding three actors to play one person – not only did they all look the same, but they all had the same mannerisms, and their performances come together as one beautifully.
Overall, this film serves as a fine example as to why the ending of a film is so crucial to get right. I want to stress that there were a lot of things in this movie I liked, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this film ends up as a Best Picture nominee. I just don’t think I would vote for it.