Another one of my Earth-dwelling friends will not stop hounding me to watch this movie, and last night I finally gave in.
And by the sands of Arrakis am I glad that I did!!
This is the best movie that has been produced on the third rock from the sun in the past five to ten years. I cannot think of another film that I have watched here that has moved me so emotionally and physically as this movie did. It was most certainly the best movie of 2016, or 5 x 10^29 on “Venus”, or my home planet. But where to start? The acting, the directing, the cinematography? It was all so wonderful. So let’s dig in.
Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play pasted partly on his life was masterfully adapted to the big screen by Barry Jenkins, two storytellers that have the life experience and have put in work actually feeling the emotions that they portray on the screen in such detail. Both men come from poverty, and struggled watching their mother’s fight addiction in ways that many of us could never even have imagined. But besides the real world experience that gives them an edge, they are both just amazing artists that have honed their craft. These two deserve the long and successful careers that await them.
Turning now to the acting, each and every one of these artists deserves their own seperate praise, and I aim to give it to them. For the main character, Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhoades all play Chiron(a.k.a. Little, a.k.a. Black) at different points in his life. The young “Little” introduces the world to Hibbert, whose shy, withdrawn demeanor portrays the suffering and emotional turmoil that the character is going through already in his life. This young man does things with this character that full grown adult actors would have difficulty with.
My personal favorite, Chiron during his teenage years is portrayed by Ashton Sanders, and watching this film the first time through I thought that the directors had pulled a “Boyhood” on us. That is how closely the acting styles of Hibbert and Sanders matched each other that the story so seemlessly transitions from youth to adolescense and no one notices. Sanders takes what Hibbert starts and takes it to the next level. As many humans would understand, the teenage years are already brimming over with emotions and feelings that you don’t understand, and given those same emotions and feelings plus the confusion over his sexuality and shame over his poverty, Chiron is literally falling apart. The bullying that he endures day in and day out is excruciating, and when he breaks down in front of the school counselor after refusing to tattle on the boys who gave him a vicious beating, I broke down right along with him. This young man deserves every single award that is given out in the field of acting. He is masterful and he represents so beautifully what many of this world’s youth feel when they go through being a teenager.
Lastly, and most definitely not leastly (I know that “leastly” is not a word, but I’m from Venus remember!! I can say whatever words I want!!) is the adult Chiron, or “Black”, given life by Treavante Rhoades. This guy is a badass. He is most definitely the sexiest actor in the entire film, and even so he is able to show that he is still the most vunerable. Through all those muscles, oh god so many muscles, and gangster veneer, we see the Chiron portrayed by Hibbert and Sanders uncanningly. These three actors could have easily been brothers in real life and spent their entire lives together and their performances would have been exactly the same. None of them overtakes the film and tries to be the star. Instead they take what the others give and makes it their own without overdoing it. It is really sensational.
Notable mentions include Mahershala Ali, Naomi Harris, and of course the three actors that portray Kevin, Chiron’s best friend throughout his life and his love interest; Jaden Piner, Jharrel Jerome, and Andre Holland. Ali portrays Juan who takes the youngest Chiron under is wing and acts as the closet thing for a father figure in this movie. Harris brings Chiron’s mother to the screen, and given that it took only three days for her to film her entire part for this film, it is the most intense and in your face portrayal of addiction that has ever been on the big screen. And not only addiction but the void that addiction leaves in everyone that is around it. Piner, Jerome, and Holland create the best friend Kevin, and turn him into a source of hope and happiness in the story.
Cinematography was a focus for the filmmakers and it turned out spectacularly. Each of the three chapters has a different feel to it, and that isn’t just because of the change in actors. The filmmakers physically treated the film to replicate three different types of appearance in film history. Who does that?!?! That is some next level art. That’s Kanye, that’s Childish Gambino, that’s Lady Gaga. Truly amazing. And the camera shots and angles are some that you didn’t even realize you had never seen before, until of course you see them in this film.
I could write an entire what is the word you humans use? Beek? No book!! That’s right. I could write an entire book about the true inspiration that this film exhibits, but alas I don’t know how much time you have to hear about it. And of course I do not know how long I will remain on this planet. Probably as long as all the people involved in this film continue to make their artwork and share it with the rest of us.
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Puck from Venus, out!!