Written and directed by Barry Jenkins, this new drama is a very intimate story of identity and human connection. The film is divided into three chapters in the life of Chiron, a young black man from a poor neighborhood in Miami, first seen as a nine year old, then as a teenager and finally as an adult.
The character is played by three different actors, Alex Hibbert as "Little", Chiron's nickname as a child, Ashton Sanders as the teenage Chiron, and Trevante Rhodes as the adult Chiron, now known as "Black". The film also features Mahershala Ali, Andre Holland, Janelle Monae, and Naomi Harris. The acting is remarkable, especially considering the dialog is sparse throughout much of the film.
Mr. Jenkins direction is flawless, pulling depths of emotion from his characters, often without words. He relies heavily on Chiron and the world seen through his eyes as he struggles with his identity and sexuality. A world highlighted by the excellent cinematography of James Laxton. The story unfolds at a slow deliberate pace, drawing the audience deeper into Chiron's life to the point you don't want his story to end.
Dividing the film into three distinct periods in Chiron's life is a bold move. Much of the story remains untold between the chapters, where the audience must fill in the pieces. The transition from teenager to adult in particular is shocking at first, but you soon realize it was almost predestined. What never changes is Chiron's struggle with identity and his desire for a real emotional connection. There is poetry in this film.