“Moonlight” is a fantastic American drama that takes us on a journey through the life of a Black American boy who grows up in a rough neighborhood in Miami. We are given a perspective into how the events in his childhood and adolescence shape the man he becomes, struggling to be himself. This film beautifully illustrates the story written by Tarell Alvin McCraney and Barry Jenkins, in a way that is so real it feels like you’re following this young man through his life journey.
The film takes place in three chapters, following the protagonist through his childhood, adolescence and adult experiences. Beginning with part one, “Little”. Chiron (Alex Hibbert) is a young boy growing up in Miami. He is smaller and “softer” then most of the children in his town, earning him the nickname “Little”. Struggling with bullies, a drug addicted mother, absent father and his confusions about his sexuality, Little is taken under the wing of a local drug dealer named Jaun (Mahershala Ali) who notices that Little is being neglected. Juan becomes a role model to young Chiron, who learns many life lessons from Juan and his loving wife Teresa (Janelle Monae). Little is often confronted at school and bullied for being different. Although for the most part Chiron is shy and keeps to himself, he has a best friend named Kevin (Jayden Piner) who helps Chiron toughen up, as to not be bullied as much.
In chapter two, “Chiron”, we leap ahead to Chiron (Ashton Sanders) in his adolescent years. He is now in high school, still shy and withdrawn, dealing with constant bullying and tormenting from the other kids. His mother is suffering from a crippling drug addiction and her condition is worsening, leading Chiron to spend less and less time at home. As the relationship between Chiron and Kevin ( Jharrel Jerome) strengthens through the struggles of their teenage years, Chiron is pushed to his limits by the stressors around him and coming to terms with his sexuality.
Chapter 3,”Black”, brings us to Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) as an adult. He has spent the past years rebuilding his image to put up a front against the harsh society around him after spending time in juvenile hall. His future looks bleak until he receives a call from his old friend and he decides to visit home. Here we see who Chiron has become and how he has evolved into the person he is, through the events from his childhood and society’s pressures.
“Moonlight” was nominated for eight Oscars at this year’s 89th Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay, as it was originally an unpublished play written by McCraney, under the title “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue”. It was the first all black cast and LGBT film to win an Oscar for Best Picture. The main theme of the film, being the struggle to find one’s identity and sexuality, and the abuse that can come as a result of it, is very important in our society today. Showing these struggles in a real setting, free of the normal clichés really brought this film to life, leaving an impact on those who watch it. The film was very popular bringing in over 22 million dollars and continuing to thrive due to it’s Oscar winning status.
I would definitely recommend “Moonlight”. It is a film that has left me thinking about it ever since I saw it, which doesn’t happen often. This movie, however, is not for young children, being rated R for some sexuality, drug use, violence and language. This film is currently being shown at Consolidated Theaters at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, and will be showing there through March 9. I would give this movie 4.5 stars out of 5.