Director/Writer Barry Jenkins' moving examination about one boy's tumultuous upbringing shaping his teenage years and moulding him into the man he becomes is both a deeply personal story about self-identity and also an heartachingly poetic narrative of love and romance.
Where "Fences" and Denzel Washington failed in their translation from stage to screen, Jenkins effectively transposed Tarbell Alvin McCraney's "In Midnight Black Boys Look Blue" to the silver screen and embraced all that cinema has to offer to give the story the necessary added depth, scope and cinematic magic.
However, all would have been for nought if not for the cast.
Jenkins struck jackpot with his casting of Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders and Alex Hibbert as the film's protagonist in all three ages. Not only for their uncanny resemblance to each other, but also in the way their eyes and body talk. Similarly, the roles of his best friend were also exceptional. Perhaps only Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" surpasses it in this respect, but "Moonlight" did not take 15 years to film.
All three main adult-roles were equally superb with Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris carrying the emotional weight whilst the protagonist was still young. Ali, however, had a quiet and powerful moment (almost his Viola Davis' in "Fences" moment) for which placed him as a front runner for the Best Supporting Actor. Janelle Monáe continues to be a revelation following her outstanding turn in "Hidden Figures".
"Moonlight" was not an easy film to watch as it explored issues that may seemed to not be directly relevant to most people. However, with patience, you will come to realise that its story was achingly personal and its message painfully universal. Even its ending will drive debate but kudos to Jenkins for eschewing Hollywood schmaltz.
"Moonlight" and "La La Land" actually do bear similarities with each other with their own portrayal of love and self-identify. Whereas "La La Land" carried its nostalgic romance brightly on its sleeves, "Moonlight" chose the darker path of insinuations and allusions. And perhaps, in this day and age, what we do need is more light.