“Moonlight” is three films-in-one. All of the narratives matter and have a compelling story to tell. However, it’s a case of diminishing returns. All three are interdependent to a point, but few fail to realize the potential of the first third. I have this argument about “The Wire” too and it drives socially conscious white people up a wall. The only season of The Wire and the only portion of Moonlight that truly mattered focused on kids impacted by the inner city.
It’s one thing to appeal to a mixed audience about applauding strife and indifference. However, it’s another to show the circumstances that birth greater issues. Dickens understood this in the mid 19th century as he implored the UK’s wealthier citizens to understand the underclass. America needs a guy like Dickens in the modern era. Too many voices want to focus on the Inner City and poor citizens as either a crutch, a cause or a bane.
“Moonlight” bobs and weaves its way to a greater understanding, but it never fully holds a revelation in its maw. The sheer frustration of watching a movie get so close to being profound leaves me aghast. I fully expect to see the film show up in multiple categories at the Oscars. However, I hope this will be true breakthrough role for Mahershala Ali. Ali isn’t in the film enough, but damn if he isn’t effective.
- 1 hr and 51 mins