Moonlight is a thoughtful, poignant study of an individual’s search for his identity. Like Lee in Manchester by the Sea, this film’s central character, Chiron (played by Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes) is out of place in his environment. Unlike Lee though, Moonlight’s main man story is not one of loss, decline, or change, so much as a story of consistent struggle.
Raised by a drug-addicted single mother, and searching for his own sense of self (social, professional, and sexual), Chirone’s struggles are both external and internal. The external are plain to see – drugs, bullies, and poverty surround him. The internal struggle is manifest, as in Manchester, with impressive subtlety.
Chirone is very quiet. The three actors who depict him manage to create a distinct, non-verbally expressive character. Posture, facial expressions, and something in their gaze, create a figure characterised by innocence, uncertainty, and sadness.