The most progressive movie of the year. This is the story of a black male at different stages of his life. Sometimes he is known as Little, sometimes he is known as Chiron, and sometimes he is simply known as Black. Just like all of us, he is just trying to find his place in the world, but he’s got the deck stacked against him, given he is coming from poverty, is assimilated into drug culture, and is not heterosexual. Even if the Oscars didn’t just make its way through #OscarsSoWhite, I promise you that this would be getting some serious recognition, it is just that kind of movie. Moonlight is about to get nominations all over the place, and they will all be completely well deserved; it really is such a compelling story that they have brought to the screen, and it is not one that we typically ever get to see.
I can only hope it’s a gateway film for the mass movie going public.
What makes this movie so great is that this is a story that doesn’t ever really get told, both cinematically and in media in general. Seriously, what is the last movie that you can recall that focuses on a person who is both African-American and gay? You’ll see either or, but I am drawing a gigantic blank on the last time it was both. That fact alone makes it a movie that you want to see people go out and support, but being that is an engrossing story on top of it makes you want to sell it as a movie that even more people should see. In addition to that, there is an in-depth look at drug culture as well. This is almost always sensationalized in movies; I love Training Day, but not every drug dealer is an evil monster, and it is actually refreshing to see more grounded characters. Mahershala Ali is only in this movie for a brief amount of time, but he makes a large impression, being a father figure for Chiron despite being a dealer. The three actors they got to play the same character all do very well. They all look similar, especially from going from Little to Chiron in the transition from segment one to segment two. You can totally see that this is the same person, which is a feat that is difficult to pull off in cinema.
Doctor Parnassus, eat your heart out.
This is a terrific movie because you grow with the character. Chiron is a man of few words, which does make it easy to see the world through his eyes, regardless of what your personal race or sexual preference may be. Moonlight brings the drama, and while it may be on the slower side considering modern movie tendency towards action, it is still very well paced for the story being told. It’s a reflective piece, and I really want to see this movie succeed.
Moonlight (2016) ****1/2
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2016? See for yourself here.