Script: Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney
Cast: Alex R. Hibbert, André Holland, Ashton Sanders, Jaden Piner, Janelle Monáe, Jharrel Jerome, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes
Rated : 10 Stars
A chronicle of the childhood, adolescence and burgeoning adulthood of a young black man growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.
The one word that comes to mind whenever I think about Moonlight is isolation. If I had to add another it would be sadness. Those aren’t very encouraging words. And if someone told me to go see a film, it is all about isolation and sadness I’m not sure I would be all that enthused. But I heartily recommend you go see Moonlight, if you haven’t already. I think it has been out for ages in the US, only just released here. And if you can, it only stayed one week in my local cinema so I’m really glad I took the opportunity to go see it.
Because it is also a beautiful film. It is small and personal in many ways, character focused and character driven. It is one man’s journey into adulthood.
We first meet him as Little, a nine year old boy running from bullies. It isn’t the first time he has suffered at the hands of his peers, and it certainly won’t be the last. He hides out in an abandoned house and there meets Juan, a local drug dealer, who tries to find out where Little belongs, or even what his name is. Little isn’t one for talking much though. And it takes quite a while before Juan learns anything about the boy.
I loved the relationship between Juan and Little, it is so rare to see anything that approaches a healthy relationship between men and young boys on screen, even when it is parents and children there is usually some unpleasantness to work through. And when was the last time you saw a back father figure get anything like a positive portrayal on-screen?
Of course Juan is a drug dealer. And Little’s mother is a drug addict. That’s not ideal, to put it very simply, but the film handles the subject so well. You just ache for everyone while you watch. And I think that is maybe why I loved this film so much, there is very little judgement in it. Not that anything is excused or made light of, on the contrary, the realities and consequences are plain and harsh, but their stories are portrayed with such empathy and hurt.
The second segment has Little as an older teenager, trying to go by his given name, Chiron. But he still faces bullying and constant harrasment. And even those that might be his friends do terrible things.
In the final section he is now Black. Grown up, a man. But still so alone.
I’m not going to say much about what happens in the second two sections, spoilers darlings!, but there are moments that’ll make you just want to put your arms around Chiron and tell him it’ll all be alright. Only you can’t. You aren’t in his life, but also, it won’t. It isn’t all right, and I was thinking about all the other people in the same situation as Chiron. Bullied for being gay. Abused because their parents aren’t there or are drug addicts. Caught in a poverty trap. Alone.
And that one moment, where you cheer for Chiron as he takes action, well, where does it lead only to further trouble and isolation. How can you watch and not be moved?
I am delighted that it won the Oscar because often this sort of film, small and personal, doesn’t get the attention it deserves. But in my opinion it is harder to get those small intimate moments across, Moonlightsucceeds, with three different but wonderful actors in the main role, some fantastic supporting cast, and beautiful direction and cinematography. I loved it.