“Who is you, man?” This is the question that everybody asks about themselves at one point of their lives, perhaps at several points. This is the question that underlines the drama film “Moonlight” directed by Barry Jenkins who also co-wrote it with Tarell McCraney.
Eloquence in a Film
Of course, many drama films have explored issues of identity, sexuality, and masculinity with each one tackling these issues from different points of view. In Moonlight, Jenkins uses the point of view of a troubled young black American who has struggled with a dysfunctional family life, a society bent on crushing his will, and a life few sees as valuable. In the character’s words, he has cried so many tears that he feels liquid and roll into the ocean.
Indeed, Moonlight is a must-see American film for 2016! Jenkins tackled the issues with sensitivity while also combining it with a heartbreakingly beautiful eloquence in dialogue, body language, and landscapes. He has also a knack for bringing out subdued yet masterful performances from his actors, often letting the audience see the human and humane side of the shady characters.
But you have to keep an open mind because its issues are the divisive issues that we face today – black lives matter, LGBT rights, and drug use. You may not agree with a few of the stands taken by the characters – or the director, for that matter – but keep in mind that this is the story of a man’s trials and the triumph he hopefully enjoys in the end.
And the ending scene is one of the best in recent years where body language and facial expressions tell the story more than words can ever say.
A Life Told in Three Parts
The film tells the story of Little, Chiron and Black – the three names of a single person whose life the audience follows from his childhood until adulthood. Little (Alex R. Hibbert), the young boy, lives with his drug-addled mother but finds a father figure in her drug dealer. He’s also being bullied and beaten by larger boys in a show of machismo.
He grows up and assumes the name Chiron (Ashton Sanders), a teenager who continues to deal with more intense bullying as well as more intense questions about himself. He has no family, no friends, and no meaningful possessions to speak of but his friend, Kevin, brings him comfort.
As an adult, he becomes Black, a man who believes that his life is an invisible one yet he continues to search for his place under the sun – and succeeds, in his own way, with the help of Kevin.
Watch Moonlight on AMC theaters and understand why it captivated the audience’s hearts and minds at the Telluride Film Festival.