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Toronto Film Festival 2016: 'Moonlight' Is a Masterpiece

A strong contender for best movie of the year 'Moonlight' captivates. The festival's first public showing of Moonlight, Barry Jenkins' ambitious sophomore movie about a young African-American male's coming-of-age and breaking-of-spirit. A three-part narrative spanning the childhood, adolescence, and adulthood of an African-American man who survives Miami's drug-plagued inner city, finding love in unexpected places and the possibility of change within himself.

It’s the story of Chiron (played by three actors), who begins as a “soft” (and later gay) African-American boy in Miami with a druggie mother (Naomie Harris) and bullies who terrorize him at school, but ultimately finds his true nature after a long struggle. While this may sound familiar, Jenkins tells his story with impressionistic brilliance, avoiding every cliché and predictable pitfall, and winning terrific acting. He gets Harris’s best-ever performance and a sensational, totally surprising turn from Mahershala Ali as a sensitive drug dealer (the actor is Emmy nominated for his work on House of Cards) who’s extraordinarily charismatic and interesting. Although the film is small and personal, it was produced by Brad Pitt’s company and is being released by A24, so it’s got big, impersonal power behind it.

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