Last week TFF Mag had the pleasure of viewing Golden Globe winning feature film Moonlight (based on the play "In Moonlight Balck Boys Look Blue" by Tarell Alvin McCraney). After hearing both positive and negative feedback about the plot of the film, I decided to do a short review of my own.
Moonlight is a raw film highlighting the life of a young man named "Chiron" who struggles with his sexuality as well as his relationship with his mother. His mother, played by Naomie Harris Paula, is a drug addict who becomes abusive when she is unable to attain her fix. Her blows are directed at Chiron who is constantly ridiculed by his peers at school as well.
Moonlight is told in three parts. The first part titled "Little" shows Chiron as a young boy struggling to keep his head above water literally and figuratively. There is a strong emphasis on his relationship with Mahershala Ali (Juan) in the film, who also happens to be the neighborhood drug dealer (who is dealing crack to his mother). While Juan seems like a hard ass to everyone else in the neihborhood, he is a caring friend and mento to Chiron who is plagued with dealing with his mothers crack cocaine addiction.
The second part of the film is titled "Chiron". Chiron is shown here as a teenage boy who is still dealing with personal issues at home and in school. This is the turning point where he begins to explore his sexuality. During this segment, Chiron has his first encounter with a classmate named Kevin. After his encounter with the young man, his live changes subtly. You can tell he found a bit of happiness in the moment he shared with Kevin. The next day at school things go awry when his love interest is pressured into punching Chiron in the face in order to be initiated into a group. Chiron is broken and badly bruised after the incident.
The third segment of the film titled "Black" is actually my favorite. Here, Chiron is shown in a different light; a stronger light where he is respected, liked and physically stronger than before. Chiron aka "Black" literally morphs into his drug dealing mentor Juan from the first segment of the film. He shed's his previous exterior end becomes engulfed in a lifestyle that adheres to his new, no nonsense exterior. While Black come across much different than Chiron, it is evident that Black carries the same gentle demeanor displays early on in the film.
Towards the end of the film, Black is contacted by his childhood love interest Kevin who held viewers were introduced to in the first segment. The two casually discuss seeing each other in person and before you know it, Black reconnects with his old flame face to face. The two share a moment and the films ends peacefully with Chiron being reunited with his boo thang.
With that being said, Moonlight is not a movie for the faint of heart. While the arrangement of the film was beautifully thought out and the character development was stellar, I couldn't help but feel sad throughout most of the film. Ironically enough, the sadness and depth of emotion portrayed the the writer and directors is what makes this film so great.
Chiron's story wasn't sugar coated with a stereotypical happy ending. While Chiron's life did take a turn for the better towards the end, it was clear that this young man's childhood was filled with blood sweat, tears and a hell of a lot of heartache. Watching Black reunite with Kevin towards the end of the film gave viewers a little hope for Chiron and his own unique happy ending. I personally hope Black and Kevin run off into the sunset together but that's neither here nor there.
Not only has Moonlight managed to bring Black Gay love stories to the big screen, but it has also managed to bring Black Boy Joy to a number of aspiring actors who didn't think they would ever have the privilege of gracing a silver screen. Kudos to everyone involved with this film and the play itself, and congrats on your accolades present and future.