Image Credit: A24
The Oscar nominated film premises on the life of Chiron, a vulnerable, gay, poor, black man living in the heart of the Miami housing projects, struggling with his identify. This coming of age story is told in three stages, first as a child, then as an teenager and lastly as an adult. He is a good person that keeps quiet and wants to save his crack addicted mother and be accepted into society.
Growing up in the city of Milwaukee, I am able relate and sympathize with the films premise and characters. I have first hand experience in living a trouble neighborhood with the exposure violence, drugs, gangs and crime lurking behind the threshold of my home. I have friends that have succumb to these harmful circumstances and are currently addicted to drugs or deceased. This powerful film surrender me to tears and left reflecting on it for days.
What I absolute love this film, is that it captures the African American experience without resorting to stereotypes or the use of violence. This film manages to create a nuance and romp pretrial of an African American experience which is historically absent in Hollywood. By that I mean, there are not many films that truly captures how life is like in the inner city and the challenges that both children and adult face daily. The closest film I was that accurately captured the African American experience and beautiful executed was ATL, a film written by Antwone Fisher and starring rapper T.I. Harris.
The film unique element is the incorporation of homosexuality themes. A new concept that is being introduce to films that portrait the African American experience. I noticed a pattern about myself; films that incorporate homosexuality in the protagonist plight automatically fall onto my category of favorite films. Moonlight is no exception. I may not be same sex oriented myself, but the romance and emotional predicament that is being portrait in these films are authentic and subversive.
No moment in moonlight is most subversive than the one in which Juan (Mahershala Ali) teaches Chiron (Alex R. Hibbert) how to swim. The film unrealistic beauty and definite feeling smashes stereotypes in which a grown black man teaches a young black a lesson about life. Having a prominent “father figure” is a new concept that this film brings. From the films I’ve seen in the past, African American men don’t have the benefit grown up with a role being or not being their biological father. I love how this film is able to change that stereotype. I am surprised to learn that Chiron role model, Juan, is a mid level drug dealer. What I enjoy about his character is that he is aware that being a drug dealer is wrong and doesn’t condone or persuade Chiron to do follow in his footsteps. Instead, Juan does not best to teach Chiron how to defend himself and to not allow others make him feel inferior because his sexual orientation.
But what I really enjoy most is the use of orchestral music. I am a HUGE fan film scores, in fact my favorite one is the score of A Single Man, which I listen to this day. Instead of stereotypically incorporating rap or hip hop music in this urban tale, director Barry Jenkins introduced the notion of incorporation classical, orchestral to set the tone of the story and to truly be mesmerized by the films beauty. Orchestral music is rarely used in urban films.
Having this film win best picture would essentially break bounders for minority writers, directors and actors, as well, would establish and represent a new voice and destroy inaccurate, hurtful stereotypes placed on the African American community.
Winning an Oscar for Best Film would mean EVERYTHING to me, my friends, and the minority community.
If you could only see one Oscar nominated film, I URGE you to see this one!
I would provide a link to the trailer here. Please click it and a sample of the experience