DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

Moonlight

Director - Barry Jenkins - 2016

"Dirty gem"
The moon enlightens but also it can also drive you insane: auspicious drama questions how to be simultaneously gay and black in a homophobic and drug-ridden community of Florida

Until the 19th century many people used to think that moonlight could drive you insane, and many mentally-ill people were locked inside without a view of the earth’s only natural satellite. Hence the expression “lunatic” and “moonstruck”. But the moonlight can also provide brightness and save lives, particularly if you are lost in a dark forest in the middle of the night. This American drama is full of hope for the marginalised gay and black Americans, so that they don’t succumb to the old-fashioned powers of the moon.

Moonlight tells the story of Chiron at three stages of his life: childhood, adolescence and adulthood (played by a different actor at each stage). He is constantly seeking maternal love and affection, but his mother constantly shuns him in favour of her drug addiction. He ironically finds solace with a local drug dealer, who becomes a provisional father figure to the young black boy. He learns from him that his mother is his client and also, more significantly, the meaning of the word “faggot”. “It is a word to make gay people feel bad about themselves”, the unexpectedly gentle and caring man explains.

The community in which Chiron live is highly insular. White people are conspicuous in the absence, they are to be seen nowhere – not even in the background. Chiron proudly identifies himself as black, so race is indeed a main focus of the movie. This community is very violent, and Chiron is often a victim of beating in his teenage years, as his bullies suspect that he is a homosexual.

moonlight3800500
Trevante Rhodes play an adult Chiron

Despite not being a drug addict and a perpetrator of violence, Chiron also has problems with the police. A crime record is not unusual in a revolving-doors culture as this. Chiron’s challenge is to break the cycle, and prevent homophobia and violence to prevail in his life. The director Barry Jenkins deftly plays with music and silence in order to convey a sense of nervousness and uncertainty. The writing is on the wall: it’s difficult to be black in the US, but it’s far more challenging to be openly gay, particularly if you live in a drug-ridden and insular community of Florida. Intersectionality is also a key issue, as being black and gay poses further challenges to the character.

Moonlight has it shortcomings, such as the two actors playing Chiron’s lover at different ages looking nothing like each other. The soundtrack – a mixture of opera, classic music, R&B and even the classic Caetano Veloso’s ‘Cucurrucucu Paloma’ – is mostly effective, but at times slips into a melodramatic tone, not in line with the rest of the movie. Still a powerful human experience whether or not you are black and gay.

Moonlight was screened as part of the Toronto International Film Festival, and it also showed as part of the BFI London Film Festival, when this piece was originally written. It was released in UK cinemas in February 2017, the same month as it won the Best Picture Oscar after a wrong announcement erroniously crowned La La Land (Damien Chazelle). The actor Mahershala Ali, who plays the drug dealer Chiron meets as a child (pictured above), deservingly won the Best Supporting Actor statuette.

And also don’t forget to watch the film trailer below:

.



"Dirty gem"

By Victor Fraga - 26-09-2016

By Victor Fraga - 26-09-2016

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
A small family of four lives in a [Read More...]
Another year has gone by, and DMovies is [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]

Read More

Creature

Asif Kapadia
2023

Chris Simpson - 06-02-2023

Choreographer Akram Khan's wild new creation is elegantly captured by one of Britain's most acclaimed documentarists - Asif Kapadia's new film is in cinemas on Friday, February 24th [Read More...]

Monica

Andrea Pallaoro
2023

John McDonald - 01-02-2023

An estranged daughter returns home in order to assist her ailing mother, in this Intimate exploration of trauma - from the From Venice to London Film Festival (taking place between February 3rd to 6th) [Read More...]

She is Love

Jamie Adams
2023

Chris Simpson - 29-01-2023

A divorced couple are reunited entirely by chance in a country hotel in Cornwall, in this improvisational six-day shot film - in cinemas and also Digital on Friday, February 3rd [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *