Moonlight is a stunning film whose power creeps up on you throughout the course of its three act structure. The story of a gay black man growing up in Miami is littered with exceptional small roles and is told with zero bombast or violence. We follow Chiron at three different ages in his life as he struggles with growing up in an environment where homosexuality is a weakness to be hidden.
Played by Alex Hibbert as a young boy, he is guarded and trying to escape his drug addict mother. He finds himself drawn to a surrogate father, who just happens to be a drug dealer. Both Naomie Harris as the addict mother and Mahershala Ali as surrogate father Juan are in career best turns. Ali, in perhaps the films strongest performance leaves an indelible mark on Chiron and his final scene in the film is unforgettable.
Portrayed as a teenager by Ashton Sanders we see a gangly youth trying to survive the jungle of school, hiding as best he can for fear of a beating. Finally as an adult, Trevante Rhodes portrays Chiron as a man who has fully hidden his true self in a portrayal of the only role model he ever had. His reconnection with an old school friend (Andre Holland) is emotionally charged and cathartic.