I was not sure what to expect about Moonlight. I had heard extremely positive things about the second directed movie by Barry Jenkins, yet I had a difficult time relating.
However, the ideas of the film does transcend the racial divide and deal with concepts of growing up and how confusing that could be.
The film follows the same character, Chiron, during three major parts of his life. First in i: Little, as a child struggling with a challenging home life who finds a friend in a kind local drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali) and his girlfriend (Janelle Monáe), Second, ii: Chiron tells the story of the young boy as a sexually confused and awkward teen in high school, picked on by a basic bully. And finally, iii: Black, sees Chiron as an adult drug dealer on his own trying to reconnect with his high school friend Kevin with whom he had had his first sexual encounter.
The film does a great job of smashing stereotypes of the black community. Juan is a drug dealer, but he is shown as a caring and kind-hearted man. Mahershala Ali is wonderful again in the film, but his absence in the second and third acts of the movie is jarring. It starts out by feeling as if it were his movie only to discover that was not the case. Interestingly enough, Chiron basically grows into a copy of Juan by the third act of the movie.
There was a fascinating subplot in the film dealing with Chiron’s substance abusing mother (Naomie Harris). I found this as interesting as any of the other stories in the movie. I would have liked more between these two.
This is most definitely a personal film and one that was, at times, tough to watch. The characters were original and well developed and the story was well written. The time jumps were a little difficult to hand at times, and the constant use of the n-word, while probably realistic, was uncomfortable.
In the end, Moonlight is a solid film, but I had more of a challenge relating to our main character.