Moonlight's powerful glow

A beautiful, unmissable film

In 2008, Barry Jenkins wrote and directed the best independent drama of that year, Medicine for Melancholy. A quiet two-hander about a one night stand that turned into something more, essentially in real time—with some class and gentrification issues deftly weaved in—it was assured and gentle, poignant and disarming. He brings that same care and kindness to Moonlight, a coming-of-age/coming-out story that follows the beats but not the drummer, constantly pivoting in new, surprising directions. Chrion—played at three different ages by actors who match each other’s sensitivity and sadness—is the son of a Miami crack addict, and finds himself under the wing of a kind drug dealer. (The film’s most heartbreaking scene comes when Chiron puts together the connection between his mother and mentor.) He’s gay but doesn’t have the tools to deal with it, and when we find him in adulthood he has become what is expected of him. But Moonlight, based on a play by Tarell McCraney, won’t just sit with that. The movie’s final sequence is a beautiful marvel. This is unmissable.

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