The thing about films, especially the great ones, is that they’re revelatory; they unveil the human experience, annotate humanity. Something I was reminded of when attending the previews for Barry Jenkins’ mercurial debut feature, Moonlight, in Manchester these past few weeks.
I was there to film vox pops for the distribution company, capturing audience responses immediately as they came out of the screening, which, let me tell you, was itself a hugely fascinating experience. You can check out one of the aforementioned videos below.
As you’ll no doubt be able to tell from the reactions above, the film was a dazzling kaleidoscope of narrative – dense yet nuanced, melancholic yet vibrant, dark yet colourful, kinetic yet still.
Everything about it, from the saturated technicolour aesthetic (almost every shot feels laced in dreamlike neon hues) to the bold cinematography and storytelling, seemed suffused with a dizzying assortment of contrasts.
Childhood – beautiful, terrifying, defiant. Adolescence – magical, brutal, lonely. Masculinity – vulnerable, powerful, tender.
The way the film manages to draw all these seemingly disparate themes into a cohesive whole to tell what is, in Jenkins’ words, a ‘coming-of-age story,’ is simply stunning.
I think I will, at some point, attempt to write about the movie in a little more detail.
Until then, the responses of the audience members that I got to film (above) will provide a far more compelling expression of what the viewing experience was like than anything I might manage to put into words.