Director: Barry Jenkins
Writers: Barry Jenkins (screenplay), based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney
Release Day: 18 November 2016 (USA)
Starring: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome
24 hours after watching Moonlight and I’m utterly convinced that this is the movie of the year!
I’ve seen a lot of movies lately, mostly because we’ve had a series of amazing releases but Moonlight affected me deeply on a personal level like very few managed to do in the past few years. The Tribe, Spotlight, The Imitation Game, are a few movies that had me walking out of the theater a mess and with a different perspective of things. Moonlight had been on my radar for a long time but I hadn’t managed to watch it until last night even though I’ve already seen Hidden Figures, Arrival, Split, La La Land and Nocturnal Animals (twice) already.
Having seen the trailer only once and knowing the brilliant cast – Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monae – I was sure this one would be a hit. And ten minutes into it I had already gotten a handful of tissues out, like the rest of the audience in the theater and was silently wiping my tears while the actors gave a stellar performance. This is a low-budget movie, barely at 5M which managed to score 8 Oscar nominations including, Best Picture and Screenplay, Supporting Actor/Actress and Directing and has already won multiple awards for the cast and crew.
At some point you’ve got to decide who wanna be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you.
Moonlight tells the story of Chiron (pronounced, Shyron) and he goes through 3 important phases of his life:
Little // Chiron, nicknamed Little, is a painfully shy boy who lives with his drug addict mother and befriends a drug dealer, named Juan, who acts like a father figure in his life. Chiron goes through his childhood feeling like he doesn’t belong with his friends at school, like he doesn’t belong at home, he’s utterly alone and fending for himself until Juan takes him under his wing and along with his girlfriend Teresa, they provide him with a sort-of-foster-family he can run to whenever things get tough. Kevin, his only friend tells him to stand up for himself.
I was a wild little shorty, man. Just like you. Running around with no shoes on when the moon was out. This one time, I run by this old lady. I was running, hollering… This old lady, she stopped me. She said, “Running around, catching up all the light. In moonlight, black boys look blue. You’re blue.”
Chiron // A teenage Chiron is being bullied at school, mostly for being gay, and his relationship with his mother is almost non-existent as she takes his money to buy drugs. Chiron’s friend, Kevin, whom he grows attached to, starts playing a bigger part in his life and then one night at the beach, Chiron asks Kevin why he uses the nickname Black for him and why Kevin has a nickname for him at all when their friendship becomes more.
Black // An adult Chiron goes through life selling drugs, isolated from his past and having little contact with his mother, receives a phone call from Kevin, years after they last saw each other. The two meet up again after all those years.
Kevin: I ain’t see you in like, a decade… It’s not what I expected.
Black: Well, what did you expect?
Kevin: You remember the last time I saw you?
Black: For a long time, tried not to remember. Tried to forget all those times. The good… the bad. All of it.
Kevin: Yeah. I know.
First of all, I was ecstatic to see that Moonlight featured an all black cast. From behind the camera, to the leads, down to the last extra, kudos and please can we have more already? Second of all, Moonlight showed that a movie can talk about queerness in the black community and turn it into art and present it with dignity and beauty and capture the essence of being a black gay man, the masculinity and actually show the struggles, it went to places a few movies would dare to go and it spoke to me; I know for a fact a lot of people walked out of the cinema more accepting and open-minded. I had a 70-year-old grandpa sitting next to me, weeping and crying like a child, I have never felt more connected with the people I’m randomly watching a movie with.
I can’t talk about Moonlight enough, the cinematography was exquisite and the directing was epic, the editing just brilliant. I could almost feel the sunlight through the screen and the humidity in the air. The camera takes you with the people and it captures emotion and feelings like you are there, somehow managing to peak into their lives.
Despite the fact that the movie goes from decade to decade, childhood, young adult and grown man, you never feel any gaps in the story. Sure through the years there are noticeable differences and happenings we don’t know about – and never really get answers to – but this is Chiron’s story and unlike books, people don’t go about their life everyday talking about the past, or recalling life altering events. We get three major turning points in Chiron’s life, presented beautifully and with a painful honesty. The ending left me gasping and a mess, I was happy and full of emotions and love and I still remember scenes from the movie and my heart breaks for Little and at the same time I feel happy for Black and I want to protect Chiron.
Moonlight is everything a movie should be and more; an example of how things can and should be portrayed and it all comes with brilliant performances and incredible directing. If there’s only one movie you’ll watch this year, it’s Moonlight. This is why representation matters
and why we need more of it. Take everyone with you, recommend it to as many people as you can, never stop talking about it.