I don’t think it’s bad, but Jenkins takes each chapter to a specific point where it gets to this big moment in the narrative trajectory that piques interest for that given timeline more than anything that comes before it. It’s always these moments that feel like they’re really difficult situations to carry on from in a way that will be able to maintain the momentum that he’s worked his storyline up to; then when I’m genuinely invested in this arc, it abruptly drops out and skips to the next chapter. I was hoping while watching it that the ending would manage to not do this and actually have some sense of culture, but no, the film cuts back to something from the first chapter — ending the film on a gorgeous shot, rather than the emotional current of the third act. It’s a shame, since the third chapter is definitely the best too, which really would’ve won me over if the ending went out on a high-note.
Each arc progressively gets better though, especially between the second and third acts of the film. The second section focuses too much on Chiron’s (the main protagonist of Moonlight) relationship with his drug-addicted mother. Without going into it explicitly, it’s entirely out of tune with the approach the rest of the film takes in terms of how the main character interacts with those around him. The established character motivations from the first act all roll over outside of his relationship with his mother, which is one of the two main factors that the second section focuses on.
Despite not loving Moonlight, I certainly understand why so many are gravitating to it so strongly. There’s such a clear amount of personality shining through the film at the helm of Barry Jenkins that it makes this such a hard film to full-on dislike. Out of the hundreds of films I’ve seen so far this year, there’s only been a handful that carry this feeling of sincere respect for all their characters like Jenkins brings to the table here, as it’s something that so many films today fail to do across the board. It’s really admirable that this is only Jenkins’ second feature-film and he’s able to work with and present his characters for what they are, which is what really gives me hope for whatever his next project might be.