Moonlight is an indie movie that touches on the struggles and difficulties of embracing race and sexuality. As one of the cinematic joys of the year, Moonlight is a masterpiece that explores the challenges of queer black men and the challenges they face.
In the movie, we see a young boy Chiron go through his trials and tribulations as he grows up over the years.
It is a journey of self-discovery for Chiron, who is nicknamed Little by his peers. The male protagonist grapples with bullying, poverty, a dysfunctional family, self-identity and his sexuality in the rough Liberty City neighbourhood of Miami.
Chiron’s story is set in three chapters, his pre-pubescent years as Little, his teenage years as Chiron and his adult years as Black. Alex R. Hibbert plays his younger self, Ashton Sanders his teenage years, and Trevante Rhodes in his adult prime.
The opening scene shows Little taking refuge in an abandoned house from the bullies who are to terrorise him throughout his entire young life. Juan, a drug-dealer who happens to also sell drugs to Little’s mother, finds the young boy and rescues him. Juan takes Little to a fast food chain where the latter barely looks up from the table and refuses to make eye contact.
Little grows up in a disadvantaged environment, with an absent father and a crack-addict for a mother. Despite having such a flight, he finds himself a new family in Juan. The film shows Little visiting Juan and his girlfriend’s home frequently throughout his growing years.
Little, now called by his real name Chiron, takes shelter at their home as well, in his teenage years, when he faces problems with his crack addict mother. Even though Chiron’s mother is depicted as being dysfunctional and a bad influence for Chiron, causing him shame during his formative years, we see another struggle through the portrayal of his mother. She is not just a neglectful mother towards Chiron, but that she is also a victim of circumstances. She has had to raise Chiron on her own.
“Who is a faggot? Am I a faggot?” Chiron asks innocently at earlier parts of the movie. At dinner, he asks Juan what a “faggot” is and what it means if he is one. Juan explains the word is something people says “when they want to make gay people feel bad.” The man who comes to be a surrogate father to Chiron says that the boy doesn’t need to know whether he’s gay right now. He will come to his own conclusions on the subject when he is ready.
In this heartbreaking movie, the performances of the actors pull the audience in. The movie is commendable for approaching social issues such as sexuality and race. Watch the movie for it is evocative and sensitive, well deserving of the Oscar it won.
Moonlight is playing at the theatres now.