**** out of ****
Moonlight is a three-part story about the childhood, adolescence and adulthood of a poor black male growing up in a section of Miami that is steeped in drugs and violence, while regularly suffering for being quiet and distant, if not for the fact that he is gay.
The first part is about him befriending a local crack dealer (the excellent Mahershala Ali) who becomes something of a sober father figure to a kid who has been given little guidance, encouragement or love. At the same time, the dealer struggles with the guilt of his chosen profession, which contributes to the decay that makes this kid’s life so tough.
As we skip to the teen years and then adulthood of our main character, we see how his formative years influence his need to survive as a man. It’s hard to write more about the plot, but I will simply say that this is a slow –yet hypnotically intense film that is captured with brilliantly planned sound and imagery reminiscent of films by Terrence Malick and Gus Van Sant.
With known talents like Andre Holland, Naomi Harris and the three actors playing the main character at different ages, the cast in this film does solid work. Writer/director Barry Jenkins deserves a lot of recognition for such an accomplished piece of filmmaking. Moonlight is easily among 2016’s best movies.