Moonlight ★★★★★

"Moonlight" is the story of a young man at three different ages, as a child, as a teenager and as an adult. Growing up in a poor black neghbourhood with a mother sliding into drug addiction, and with an emerging sense of his own sexuality, Chiron's life builds in tension until an explosion of violence changes everything - and then later in life, the question becomes what can be put back together again afterwards?

Barry Jenkins' film is a marvel. I haven't seen as deeply concentrated a character study in a while, one that paints the contradictions of growing up different to everyone around you, where even your closest friends may betray you, and how those feelings can still tear at you years later. The last third in particular is a masterpiece of subtext - a simple conversation where the weight of two characters' history lies underneath everything they say.

Performances throughout are exemplary - the three performers playing Chiron (Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders and Alex Hibbert), Naomi Harris as his mother, Mahershali Ali as the drug dealer who simultaneously enables his mother and is his protector, Janelle Monae as the dealer's kind girlfriend, and particularly Andre Holland as Chiron's oldest friend.

This hit me in several places I live, and feels utterly gripping in its portrayals of the brutal elements of life and the moments of tenderness that holds you through them.