This week, the University of Maryland's SEE, Student Entertainment Events, organization sponsored a showing of the recent multiple award-winning film Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins. Even though I had seen a lot of hooplah in the media about the movie, I wanted to see what the big deal was for myself. The story follows three phases of the life of Chiron "Black", a young boy living in Miami struggling to survive his mom's abuse and crack addiction, incessant bullying, and harassment over his internally misunderstood homosexuality.
The movie itself was a piece of art. I appreciated the symbolism and moments of cinematic emphasis on colors, angles, and scenery. There were certain scenes where the camera would pan across the young Chiron's face, and it was almost as if you could see into his soul. It was delightfully eerie and painful. The cinematography allowed the audience to become fully immersed in Chiron's pain, isolation, and desperation for love.
This film is so important for people, especially members of the black community, to see this film because not only is it about acknowledging the blurred lines of masculinity, but also the concept of true love. Most of the movie was about Chiron's struggle as a helpless young boy dealing with identity issues and depression, but it was not until a father and mother figure came into his life, that he started to understand the meaning of love. Chiron's father figure, played by Mahershala Ali, spent his time trying to raise Chiron the right way, while ironically selling his crack-addicted mother her drugs. This adds to the break of Chiron's fragile psyche, but he still takes the lessons learned from his father even after his sudden passing.
After the movie, my roommates and I were having a little debate over whether or not Chiron was truly "gay" or if he became "gay" due to the fact that he was called homosexual slurs his whole life. I argued that it wasn't about whether or not he was gay, but rather his ability to eventually accept love and be his true self despite his scarring love-less relationships in the past, especially with his mother.
Homosexuality is still a seemingly "taboo" topic in the black community, and homophobia is even more prevalent. Respect comes from being a "real n**ga" and it is taught from an early age, that if you're seen as "soft" then you are automatically disrespected or less than. Moonlight shows Chiron's struggle with this conflict, and even though he overcomes it to an extent, the abusive interactions he had growing up are indelibly etched into his character like the black pigment on his skin.
This is a 100% MUST SEE movie, and I hope everyone reading gets a chance to experience this amazing film. Moonlight now in theaters!
**All photos are from Rotten Tomatoes.