Critics Consensus

Moonlight uses one man's story to offer a remarkable and brilliantly crafted look at lives too rarely seen in cinema.



Total Count: 363


Audience Score

User Ratings: 44,750
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Movie Info

The tender, heartbreaking story of a young man's struggle to find himself, told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love, while grappling with his own sexuality.

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Critic Reviews for Moonlight

All Critics (363) | Top Critics (58) | Fresh (356) | Rotten (7)

Audience Reviews for Moonlight

  • Mar 13, 2019
    Gangsta and gay, does that go together? The attempt is pretty brave, especially the actors of all three time frames brought a lot of talent and guts into this. Their performances make for some memorable scenes. The writing...not so much. I can't entirely say why it touched me less than, say, Brokeback Mountain or Boyhood, which explored similar themes. Definitely worth seeing but I expected a much bigger punch.
    Jens S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 18, 2018
    Mahershala Ali stars as Chiron's guardian in this heartbreaking drama of discrimination and forbidden love. Wish he would've been more involved in the rest of the story.
    Spencer M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 26, 2018
    As tender as it is tough as it is true, three-tiered coming-of-age drama Moonlight is a near-master class character study that almost reaches the vaunted heights of its A+ reputation. In this R-rated Oscar winner, director Barry Jenkins chronicles the childhood, adolescence and burgeoning adulthood of a young, African-American, gay man growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami. Truly, in any other year or awards cycle, this film might have found itself in the also-ran category. Given the backlash surrounding the 'Oscars So White' brouhaha, however (in which the Motion Picture Academy of Arts & Sciences barely put forth any African-American nominees), this independent gem improbably claimed the year's top prize. To say that Academy voters gave Moonlight the Best Picture trophy due to white guilt or a self-back-patting PR-move truly undermines a beautifully acted and shot achievement in filmmaking. However, the truth is that Moonlight is good but not THAT good. Weighing the film with these heaviest of laurels only serves to put an albatross around its neck, dashing expectations along the way and undermining its beauty in another way. At times heart-tugging and heart-wrenching (sometimes at the same time), there are many things to love about Moonlight, beginning with its source. The film takes its inspiration from In the Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, an unpublished play by Tarell Alvin McRaney, in more ways than one. Beyond the title and narrative, there is also the matter of color. Almost everything - from the rolling surf where a fatherly drug dealer takes young Chiron for his first ocean dip to the clothes worn by a teenage Chiron's abusive mother to the streetlights of nighttime Miami where a hardened adult-aged Chiron peddles narcotics - exudes an almost ethereal blueish hue. And that's the splendor of Jenkins and cinematographer James Laxton's unified vision. Life is not simply black and white; it's black and blue--dark moments punctuated by color. Just look at the film's poster, which showcases the three faces of Chiron as one in stark black and blue. The vicious visceral sense of the term 'black and blue' in regards to bruising only compounds this notion. Notice too that these aforementioned scenes also bely this duality. In these highlighted moments, there's the hurtful but loving mother, the kind-hearted but socially despicable father figure and our protagonist, a lost little boy grown into a callous criminal. There are colorful qualities to these often-dark lives, which is definitely an authentically human quality. Thankfully, Jenkins and Laxton capture this all in a truly cinematic fashion, forgoing handheld in lieu of a good old-fashioned stationary camera. It exudes beauty in tragedy, providing the perfect backdrop as a man slowly finds himself. Alex Hibbert (Little), Ashton Sanders (Middle), and Trevante Rhodes (Big) play three versions of this same person but, together though separate, awesomely and seamlessly provide one solid and wholly believable through-line. They ARE Chiron. With little screen time, their co-stars, Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris, both leave a lasting impact felt long after the final credit has rolled. Ali, so ridiculously deserving of his Oscar win for Best Supporting Actor, grounds an unlawful dealer named Juan who, alternatively, has a moral center so strong that he takes a neglected child under his caring wing. Together, Chiron and Juan truly challenge the issue of masculine identity. Again, there is that duality. Speaking of duality, there are some slight cons. Even with all of its pluses, Moonlight has somewhat limited appeal. If you strip away the visuals (just for argument's sake, mind you), this story has already been seen and heard countless times by audiences. While it beautifully presents a real-feeling coming-of-age story, not a lot actually happens. Despite the presence of guns, drugs and thugs, it is a quiet film without a discernible plot or target audience. This is not to say that it's boring or that these are least for some audiences. Indeed, if filmgoers allow themselves to get caught up in the trappings of this story, it will move them--not overwhelmingly so but moving nonetheless. One has to truly be willing to immerse themselves in these blue waters, however, and this experience rarely exhibits a 'wow' moment. Sadly, to many, Moonlight will feel like a slow-moving lesson in monotony. To Sum it Up: Walk Into the Light
    Jeff B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 18, 2017
    Moonlight doesn't feel like a scripted film, it feels real - and has a very important story to tell.
    Sean T Super Reviewer

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