‘Moonlight’ is an Affecting Character Examination that Highlights Larger Issues

Moonlight

The fact is that life for a black Americans is markedly different than that of a white Americans is a fact that few are willing to admit – look at today’s political landscape to see this point illustrated in real time. So much of that failing to understand is rooted in a lack of empathy, an unwillingness to try and contextualize the societal issues that perpetuate the divide. The new film from director Barry Jenkins, Moonlight, follows the life of one young black man at three separate stages of his life, starting from the age of 9 and concluding as a fully grown adult. Moonlight is an affecting piece of cinema, one that looks at the cyclical nature that engulfs generations of black men and the demands of masculinity that make countless people shun their true nature.

As a young boy, Chiron (Alex R. Hibbert), also known as Little, faces bullies on a daily basis that target him for his diminutive stature. One day while hiding from his tormentors, Chiron is aided by Juan (Mahershala Ali), a local drug dealer, who feeds the young man and looks after him. Chiron is hesitant to speak to Juan and his girlfriend Teresa (Janelle Monáe), but that doesn’t stop the couple from looking after the young boy. Juan’s relationship with Chiron rubs the young boy’s mother Paula (Naomie Harris) the wrong way, with the young mother taking exception to her drug dealer befriending her son. Throughout the turmoil that surrounds their lives, Juan looks after Chiron with a paternal caring that transcends his illicit trade.

In a brief supporting role, Mahershala Ali once again proves why he’s one of the actors currently in heavy demand. It’s a soulful supporting performance that should be considered for multiple awards, as Ali’s Juan imparts life lesson upon the young Chiron. Moonlight features one of the funniest cutaways in movies this year, with Juan placed in the uncomfortable situation of trying to explain the meaning of the slur “faggot.” As Juan tries to contextualize the slur even further than necessary, Jenkins cuts away to Teresa just shaking her head as a means to tell Juan to quit while he’s ahead.

The second chapter of Moonlight has Chiron (Ashton Sanders) in high school. He still struggles with bullies and is still reluctant to speak up. His mother’s problems with drugs persist, and Chiron often finds himself seeking refuge at Teresa’s place; for reasons that are never made clear, Juan has died a short while before. The lone bright spot in life for Chiron is his friendship with Kevin (Jharrel Jerome). Complicating matters for Chiron are the questions swirling internally about his own sexuality, the young man’s emerging crush on his friend creating an internal tension. Despite a moment of tenderness between the two young men, things come crashing down when Kevin is pressured into fighting Chiron at the behest of bullies. Seething with rage, Chiron takes his vengeance out on a ringleader and is promptly arrested.

The third and final chapter of Moonlight has Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) as an adult, having fully morphed into a younger version of Juan. Chiron wears the same sort of do-rag and drives a similar car as Juan did, and has even taken up the drug trade in another similarity to his mentor. In older age, Chiron still hasn’t become comfortable expressing himself, still barely speaking and often in a quiet hush. An unexpected call from Kevin (André Holland) all these years later leads to an awkward reunion, where the two reunite and discuss the varied aspects of their life, each having spent time in the prison system. All these years later and Chiron still guards all of his feelings of his own sexuality, as if any honesty would diminish the harsh exterior necessary for his trade.

Through three chapters, we’re witness to a character that has all these external forces perpetuating a vicious cycle, and repressing his true self in order to save face in a crudely masculine world. One moment of violent lashing out against his tormentors set Chiron on a path of incarceration and the drug trade, a far cry from the shy child we’re first introduced to. The evolution of Chiron is a heartbreaking journey, one that takes a child of limitless promise and contorts him into statistic.

Probably the closest cinematic relative to Moonlight would be Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, in the manner with which both movies follow a character as they grow up through life. Of course, Moonlight won’t receive the same amount of press for its story because Barry Jenkins didn’t follow around one actor for 12 years to craft his story. But the similarities between the two also illustrate the remarkable differences in the experience of poor white Americans and poor black Americans. As shown in Boyhood, the path upward is much easier as opposed to the path upward available for the characters of Moonlight, all of which underscores the cyclical word that Chiron is thrown into.

Moonlight is an emotionally affecting story that unfolds through so many different facets that amplify its robust themes of the factors that affect black youth and the elements of masculinity that demand people repress their true nature. It’s a marvelously acted portrait, with each of its three leads carrying more than their weight in conveying the internal struggle that Chiron experiences from his youth. The film is also dazzling visually, with the cinematography by James Laxton giving the movie a naturalistic beauty even when employing extremely stylized cinematic techniques. Along with The Fits and Morris From America, Moonlight is another example of strong independent filmmaking that is placing young black characters front and center. Barry Jenkins’ film is a lovely character study that retains its beauty even while examining ugly topics and their ugly effect on society.

Shop Deadpool tees in our officially licensed Marvel store!

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
‘Baywatch’ Washes Ashore August 29th

The movie adaptation of Baywatch had everything going for it…casting-wise. You...

ranma
RANMA ½ Anime OVA & MOVIE COLLECTION Debuts From VIZ Media

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), a premier company in the fields of...

Rob Zombie to Host, ’13 Nights of Halloween’ on HDNET MOVIES

From HDNET Movies – Los Angeles – Aug. 17, 2017 – HDNET...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Telltale's Batman: The Enemy Within
Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within Episode One Available Now

Define your own Bruce Wayne and reshape The Joker in the...

atgames
AtGames Announces Pre-orders for New Atari 2600 and Sega Genesis

Pre-orders started for the new Atari Flashback 8 Gold and Sega...

Redeemer Review
7.0/10
Cleanse Your Conscience in Blood – Redeemer Review [PC]

Sometimes you need to be left alone, other times you need...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
viz
VIZ Media Announces New Digital Manga Content For August Update

VIZ Media details digital manga updates for August highlighted by the...

viz
VIZ Media Announces New Manga and Literary Acquisitions At Anime Expo

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), a premier company in the fields of...

9.0/10
Supergirl Makes Contact in ‘Supergirl Being Super’

Title: Supergirl Being Super #4 Writer: Mariko Tamaki Artist: Joelle Jones...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Ay Caramba!Penny Skateboards Join Up with The Simpson’s

After 30 years, 618 episodes (and counting), 32 Emmy Awards, and...

Sensei 310
SteelSeries Sensei 310 and Rival 310 Gaming Mice

SteelSeries Unveils the First, True 1-to-1 Esports Gaming Mouse Sensor Exclusively...

Alter Ego Release Groot and Deadpool for SDCC

From Alter Ego – Cary, NC: Florida based lifestyle accessories company,...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Mayweather and McGregor Previous Fights Now On Demand on Cable, Plus Interviews, Workouts and More

From iN DEMAND – New York, Aug. 17 – Before the...

Rumble on the Water 2 Delivers Punching Power

July 29, 2017 – Long Beach, CA – The Queen Mary...

UFC Star Jon ‘Bones’ Jones Releases Emoji App – BonesMoji

From BonesMoji – Los Angeles, CA., July 27, 2017 – One...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
CULTURAL JUNK DRAWER SDCC 2017 86.3% TRUE RECAP!

A totally true recap of the most important geek cultural even...

Comics on the Can: Schick Hydrobot and the Transformers

Written by John Barber, Pencils by Steve Kurth, Inks by Juan...

Star Wars Themed Lands Will be the Perfect Safe House for the Rebellion and the First Order

Disney’s D23 Expo has revealed a lot of what is to...

Event News Event Reviews
The Third Annual ‘BeerX’ from 91X in San Diego Featured Sunburns and Beer Goggles

This past Saturday, I attended the 3rd annual BeerX, presented by...

anime film festival
LA-Anime Film Festival Kicks Off to Celebrate 100 Years of Anime Films

Los Angeles Anime Film Festival (LA-AFF), presented by international creative company...

stan lee
Extraordinary: Stan Lee at The Saban Theatre

Comedian, Nerdist CEO, and podcast extraordinaire Chris Hardwick will lead a roster of...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming.

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Lahna Turner’s ‘Limeade’ is a Hilariously Haunting Comedy Album

Many people are roll their eyes at the idea of musical...

Prince’s ‘Deliverance’ Reminds Us of Who We Lost

On Friday, April 21st, it will be one year since we...

Sabroso Fest, How can you go Wrong with Beer, Tacos and Lucha Libre!?!(Photo Gallery)

The Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco and Music Festival sponsored by 95.5...