What a powerful story! I am not saying this only because the main protagonist is a strong one, but also because of the amazing empathy created by the narration, cinematography, and sound.
Moonlight (dir. Barry Jenkins) is a story about an African American homosexual boy’s coming-of-age in Miami. The story is divided in three chapters, following little Chiron (aka ‘little’), since his preadolescence, adolescence, and later on as an adult. In each chapter, the story presents a new phase of Chiron, in which he searches for his own identity. Moonlight is based on a true story written in the non-published work “In the Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney.
Chiron (Alex Hibbert) is a boy living with a drug addict and neglecting mother (Naomie Harris). He struggles with who he really is, as people question his sexuality even before he acknowledges it. It is during his childhood that he finds comfort in Teresa (Janelle Monáe) who cares for him. He meets drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali), who is too kind to be one, which is exactly the magic of Moonlight. It allows you to see alternative narratives of stories that have been told in a singular way all along. As unexpected as it might seem, this drug dealer helps ‘Little’ to find comfort in his own skin, as for now. In the second chapter, adolescent Chiron (Ashton Sanders) discovers love, but the context in which he finds himself does not allow him to be able to be fully himself. In the third and last chapter, ‘Black’ (Trevante Rhodes) has grown up. Black is the surname given by his first love Kevin (Jharrel Jerome). Unfortunately, circumstances have led him to a path that, according to adult Kevin (André Holland), is not meant for Black. After receiving an unexpected call, Black finds himself in his hometown where he meets old memories that weren’t that old all at all, as he had never let go of his feelings.
What is also exceptional to Moonlight is the acting. The marvelous and talented cast give life to the characters while the camera zooms in and moves smoothly with the protagonists. The sound and the silences reveal the inner feelings and characteristics of the main roles. Black’s gaze is mesmerizing and poignant – when he dares to look directly into the eyes of the other character, you understand and feel his emotions: his fears and hopes. Actually, more mesmerizing is that all the actors who play Chiron have the same gaze. It is a fantastic detail that adds much depth to the character, as the way Chiron expresses himself through body language reveals more than his dialogue does.
Moonlight is a movie that won’t disappoint. The new insights that the film brings to the screen and also to the contemporary lives of African-Americans, is accompanied by fantastic cinematography and sound that will leave you daydreaming, and thinking about the film and its topic for a while. If Moonlight does not win the Oscar for Best Picture 2017, then I don’t know which other film will.
Cover Image: Screenshot Moonlight – Disappearing into the water, into the world.