This was a hard movie to watch, I guess just because of how real it was. For anyone that has a heightened emotional sensitivity, I would say be prepared. I can’t give a trigger warning to one certain aspect of the film, but bullying, sexual discrimination, and addiction are definitely the prevalent themes. Writer/Director Barry Jenkins took Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play and turned it into a very raw, rigid but masterful experience. The film centres predominantly around one character Chiron played by three different actors representing childhood, adolescence, and adulthood: Alex R Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, & Trevante Rhodes. All of which were instructed by the director to have no interaction or input among themselves on how to play Chiron, making it even more astounding that they seemed to all have achieved incredible performances, maintaining the continuity and consistency of the character’s evolution and trajectory. These performances alone make the acting aspect of the film one of the most amazing aspects. Add on to this the performances of Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris and you have the saturation of an ensemble cast that went deep inside their characters, and above and beyond the representation.
Outside of the commanding acting, directorial choices were risky, but needed to translate the chaos of the story. Jenkins’ had some bold manuevers that should make any awards committee sit up and take notice: To have the camera work as tempermental and intense as of the situations would probably annoy most in the theater, but in my mind would not evoke the transcendace as well with cleaner shots. His choice of soundtrack was also one that was all over the board but yet again contributed to this tragically beautiful collage. Songs that spanned the range of soul, to hip hop, to classical, gave you the clouded layers of risk, and uncertainty, but at times lifted the veil to show sunshine and beauty.
As stated before, the film has some very upsetting scenes, but if your patient enough to catch them very beautiful and touching moments. If I don’t give this film a ten, it’s for selfish reasons, as I would have loved to have some aspects of the story go a different way, but that is not to take anything away from this story, which I feel is immediate and necessary.