Moonlight: Film Review
Although I am brutally late I managed to take a second to stop by a quaint little theater that happened to be showing Moonlight. Upon entry to the theater I was about 10 minutes late due to some unfinished business at the local auto mechanic. Once I settled into theater there was a scene being shown where ‘Little’ aka Chiron aka Black (the main character who’s life is shown in three parts) was at school being picked on by fellow classmates. I have to admit I was leery of how there was a three character switch. The performances of Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes were all equally impactful to the storyline of the main character. The coloring and tone of the film appeared to be sultry as Barry Jenkins (director) wants you to feel the emotional rollercoaster that is Little’s (the main character) life while you try to seek out why he’s such a mysterious child. As the viewer you can almost feel like you’re the one being teased. As this black boy who’s skin resembles rough pavement with little to no voice spoke it sparking a feeling of sorrow. Instantly I am intrigued by the director’s raw camera angles which allow you to feel the tension as Little tries to define his role in his mother’s life (Paula) who’s only priority seems to be smoking crack Cocaine and teasing her young son for being gay or as she calls him one time too many “faggot.”
Surprised but not offended I continue to absorb the brashly honest film. Very soon you are introduced to the supporting actors who are also considered to be key factors of the film. Juan, Theresa and Kevin. Juan a local crack dealer discovers Chiron outside looking abandoned and hungry. He takes the young kid in and immediately takes to his helpless, naïve and fearful demeanor by offering him stablility, confidence and guidance. Although his girlfriend Theresa does not understand the relationship between the two, Juan becomes a father figure for the obviously misunderstood and underprivileged Chiron. Juan understands Chiron’s difference and offers him strength through words of wisdom to help him become free of every else’s prejudice. This point of view is very important to the story as the same person who is providing little’s mother with the crack she smokes is the same person who takes him on as his responsibility. The last impact of little’s life would be Kevin, a semi-popular little kid from the neighborhood who shows pity on Chiron.
There’s a mysterious connection between Kevin and Chiron for the simple fact that Chiron’s poise as a young kid afraid of what he feels inside makes it almost impossible for him to make friends. Despite all the other kids segregating Chiron for being gay or what they call “faggot” Kevin still befriended Chiron. The transition from kid to teenage gives an in depth views of how consistent the teasing would become. Little who would transition into Chrion would become an older worse version of himself dealing with the loss of Juan (unseen) and him having to cope with feeling like no one else cares for him Kevin remains consistent with Chiron. Treating him as if he were one of the other kids but their friendship would be at the convenience of Kevin and who was around. The movie’s climax to me would be when Kevin and Chiron would end up on the same beach one night his mother’s addiction and violent behavior was too much. Kevin would make Chiron feel so comfortable to the point of giving him a hand job. There’s a sense of anxiousness that immediately surrounds the film since there had been no other strong indication of Chiron’s same sex behavior. Shortly after a school bully would coerce Kevin into beating Chiron up in front of the entire school which seems to be when DL men are highlighted as some closeted or confused gay men’s first experience.
Although most viewers could not correlate how the ending could be impactful a very grown Chiron emerges later as a late twenty-something man whose body is as chiseled as the statue of liberty. Trevante Rhodes’ emergence onto the screen allows you to see the growth of Chiron on the outside but the way he speaks and carries himself displays that those inner feelings of self doubt and no love are still there. As he reconnects with is old friend so much as to travel back to Florida to see Kevin working in a restaurant as a chef the on camera chemistry is undeniable. As the Areatha Franklin classic ‘One Step Ahead’ is played as an ode to why Kevin contacted Chiron in the first place the film takes you to a place where both men and women can identify. That is that no matter how near or far you can always find your way back to love. Real genuine love that has no color, gender or rules as long as it feels right for you.
This film and the impact it has had on today’s society is undeniable for one reason: gay is here to stay. Not because society is allowing it but because artists are able to convey messages to the world that don’t just revolve around sex or physical traits. Gay men can kiss on screen and no sex scenes be displayed but you feel the love between the two is a power that I am happy to say Barry Jenkins shed light on. This film will hopefully make it possible for gender barriers to be broken to educae the ignorant and help those who suffer from prejudice feel more comfortable about being themselves.
Vashon Wade 2017