I finally had a chance to watch the 2017 Oscar winning movie, Moonlight, and decided to write a short review for it. First and foremost, congratulations to all involved with this movie. It’s a subtle, yet powerful depiction of a young black male trying to find his way in the inner city of Miami, which isn’t always easy.
So many movies in our history have shown the coming of age of white teens, usually from rich families or from unconventional households that force them to decide they deserve better. What we don’t get enough of are movies like this where we see the main black character not being a bully and not holding a grudge against some higher power.
We see a drug dealer, Juan, who is obviously not doing the right thing career wise, but he develops a friendship with this little boy, Chiron, and teaches him things that his drug-addicted mother isn’t around to teach him. Not once do we see Juan being violent or “bad” in any way. He is a strong, influential man in a great relationship who tries to guide Chiron in the right direction. He also happens to be a black Cuban man. So yes, movie watchers . . . it is possible to see a different, positive side to a black man in the inner city.
Chiron struggles with understanding his sexuality, and Juan helps him through that – free of judgment. The one thing I was disappointed with is the fact that Juan wasn’t around as long as I’d hoped. We don’t even really know what happened to him, or how it affected Chiron mentally. We only see the three crucial chapters in Chiron’s life – as a young boy, as a teenager and as a young adult seemingly following in Juan’s footsteps while continuing to try and understand his tendency to identify with homosexuality. I also wish Chiron spoke a bit more in the movie. His scenes in all three chapters were powerful in their silence, but I think there could have been a bit more dialogue without taking away from the effectiveness.
In a society where homosexuality is viewed as “a sin,” it was nice to see a child asking questions about it and having an adult answer those questions with positivity and acceptance. To be clear, this is not a movie based on “pushing the homosexual agenda.” It’s a coming of age movie about a young boy who grows up in an unconventional setting who is just trying to make his way through life despite the ups and downs. It’s an important story that isn’t told often enough.
SYNOPSIS: A chronicle of the childhood, adolescence and burgeoning adulthood of a young, African-American, gay man growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.
Director: Barry Jenkins
Writers: Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney
Cast: Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris, Jaden Piner, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Trevante Rhodes, Andre Holland