Movie Review: One of 2016’s best, Moonlight unfolds a coming-of-age story with poetic grace

Three actors, three ages, one soul: Barry Jenkins’ beautiful, sensitive Moonlight tells a coming-of-age story in passages, each possessed of enough stand-alone power to operate as a wonderful short film, even as the whole proves much greater than the sum of the parts. After the time-lapse miracle of Boyhood, any movie hoping to credibly depict someone growing up on screen has its work cut out for it. But watching Chiron, the main character of Moonlight, change from a bullied 9-year-old boy (Alex R. Hibbert) to a gawky teenager (Ashton Sanders) to a quiet, muscular man (Trevante Rhodes), it’s easy to believe we’re seeing the same person throughout—the same shy and taciturn kid, uncomfortable in his own skin, living in his own head. The actors don’t look much alike, but they create a continuity of performance: a whole person in spectrum.

Chiron is poor, black, and gay …

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