Musical Score By: Nicholas Britell
Songs By: Various Artists
Distributed by: Lakeshore Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
The dramatic film, Moonlight, follows the life of Chiron, a young black male who struggles to find his place in the world. As a child (Alex Hibbert), he is meek in personality and size, an easy target for bullies. Life at home isn’t much better and he finds himself befriending a local drug dealer (Mahershala Ali). As a teenager (Ashton Sanders), Chiron is still bullied by friends but makes a surprising discovery about his relationship with longtime friend Kevin (Jharrel Jerome). After a horrible hazing incident that sparks a horrific moment of revenge, Chiron grows to become a hardened drug dealer, but can a visit with a family member help to turn his life around?
The musical score of Moonlight was created by American composer Nicholas Britell, a piano performance graduate of Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division and an honors and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard University. Some of his composing credits include the musical scores of The Big Short, 12 Years A Slave, Free State of Jones, A Tale of Love and Darkness and Whiplash.
The music found on the Moonlight Soundtrack reflects the growth of the character, changing in genre and style as the character becomes older. It also reflects the emotions of Chiron as he struggles with acceptance and the pain associated with bullying. The first track, though containing a derogatory word for blacks, contains a poignant message about rising above discrimination and realizing your worth despite what others might label you. We move into Little's Theme which is a beautiful piano piece that speaks of innocence and a tad bit of sorrow. By Track 4, we are listening to an excerpt from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The following two tracks – The Middle of The World and The Spot – feature more classical music.
By the time we reach Chiron's Theme, the mood has become darker, the undertones rumbling and ominous. We start moving into the hip hop scene, culminating in Cell Therapy, a defiant rap by Goodie Mob. As Chiron reconnects with people who remind him of the good parts of his life, we hear the R&B track Hello Stranger by Barbara Lewis. By the end of the movie, things are starting to get brighter, the music a bit lighter and we can hear some hope for the man Chiron has been molded into.
I really enjoyed listening to Moonlight and the various nuances Nicholas Britell used to describe the pain and anguish that molded Chiron…the experiences that turned him into a hardened drug dealer, following in the footsteps of the people he wanted to get away from. We travel the journey musically with Chiron, feeling his struggles and then the eventual brightness of hope. Moonlight is definitely a soundtrack worth checking out.