On Screen // Moonlight
After a couple years of the #oscarssowhite and the ongoing debate about representation in Hollywood, the Academy Awards at last offered a list of nominations complete with movies made and acted by people of color. Among that list includes director Barry Jenkins’ masterpiece, Moonlight, a film that includes an all-African American cast, and a majority of his crew, too. The success of the project infused this year’s Academy Award nominations with necessary diversity.
Moonlight chronicles the life of a young boy, Chiron, as a child, teenager, and adult. Chiron (Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders and Alex Hibbert, respectively), is betrayed, abused, and pushed around, all the while trying to figure out who to stabilize a relationship with. His mother is an absent minded, emotionally abusive drug addict, which takes a toll on the course of Chiron’s life.
Audiences watch as he grows up while followed by his problems that stem from childhood. From bullies to old habits to forgotten people, Chiron must face each head on and decide how he wants to live his life.
Chiron’s masculinity, sexuality, identity, and relationships are questioned constantly throughout his life, and it’s only at the end when audiences get the answer to what Chiron really wants in life. Through it all, nothing about his character—including his sexual identity or race—feels like a stereotypical representation. The film is authentic to its core, and is so emotionally resonant that the audience can’t help but feel uncomfortable with its stark reality.
Golden Globe winner Moonlight is an important film for many reasons. The film is groundbreaking, but also relatable. Struggling to fit in, stay out of trouble, and also abide by the rules placed by society is something nearly everyone struggles with. Jenkins does a phenomenal job of portraying those problems in Chiron.
If someone is trying to figure out where they belong in this world, this film is highly recommended. It forces viewers to take a hard look at the trajectories of their own lives.
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