For Tarell Alvin McCraney, watching “Moonlight” isn’t the wonderfully transformative experience it is for film critics shouting its praises. It’s emotional. It’s painful. It’s struggle, embodied. After all, the movie is quite literally his life playing out onscreen, just with actors as the men and women he knew and loved some 20, 30 years ago: his drug-addicted mother, the local drug dealer turned father figure, the first guy with whom he was ever intimate.
“It’s a palpable snapshot of memories and dreams that is difficult to sit through,” he said. “The first time I saw it, I went through a pretty bad depression. The second time, I burst into tears midway through. It’s hard. It’s rough.”