It’s been probably about a month since I’ve seen Moonlight, but for some odd reason I waited until now to give my review. I can’t tell you why I waited, but I did. Regardless, here we are. I’ll issue my one and only warning now. This has spoilers!
Without a question, Moonlight is probably my favorite movie of 2016. As I think back on all I’ve seen this year, there is no movie that comes close. Not even Captain America: Civil War or Deadpool top this indie film. In fact, depending on how the Fences movie plays out with Viola Davis and Denzel Washington, I may rate Moonlight the best movie of 2016.
What makes it so great you ask? For starters, let me talk about the incredible casting. I thought each character was cast perfectly. Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes were great playing the different phases of Chiron’s life. The three actors were able to get me to emotionally invest in the development of Chiron. And speaking of these actors, allow me to take a moment to applaud Trevante Rhodes. When he hit the screen, I was sitting with some of my friends, and I think we all sighed a collective “damn.” He’s just so chocolatey and fine. Goodness! But I digress.
I also have to give a shoutout to Janelle Monáe. I was pleasantly surprised at how well she was in the role of Teresa. I know she didn’t have a ton of lines, but I was impressed with the singer’s diversification of talent. And of course I take my hat off to the talent display of Naomi Harris, and Mahershalalhashbaz “Mahershala” Ali (aka Remy Danton, aka Cotton Mouth). These two incredible actors forced me to think about the parallels of the drug trade. How a dealer who just wants to make money could care so much about a kid of the community he is helping to destroy. And how a strung out mother could have such an issue with a dealer that she has been buying from and has been taking care of her son.
And everyone knows great actors mean nothing for a movie without some amazing writing. Barry Jenkins and Tarell McCraney delivered a story that had my complete attention. My eyes were glued to the screen. I fully bought into this coming-of-age story of about a boy trying to understand who he is and what that means, while dealing with a mother that has fallen victim to the crack epidemic of the 80s. Plus, it was so relatable. As I’ve openly discussed on here, I once deeply struggled with my sexuality. I may not have been constantly bullied like Chiron, but I definitely did what I could not to be “different” like Kevin (with the exception of beating folks up for no rhyme or reason).
Staying on the plot for a minute, can I say how refreshing it was to see a film about gay men of color that didn’t rely on overused clichés, stereotypical characters, and nonsensical sex scenes? And before you think I’m shading a particular movie or show, I’m not. Truly and honestly, I’m not throwing anyone under the bus. I just really appreciated a fresh story in Hollywood that depicted a homosexual perspective that is not often shown or embraced.
Now I have heard from various friends that the only flaw with this smash hit is the ending. They claimed that the ending seemed rushed and incomplete. At first I agreed with that sentiment. I was left asking myself “that’s it?” I wanted to know what happened next. Did Chiron and Kevin make something happen officially? Did Chiron leave his life of crime? Did Chiron find the courage and strength to explore who he was outside of Juan’s shadow? These are questions I wanted to know the answer to. However, after I gave it some more thought, the film ended as it should have. It was slightly artistic and left me wanting more. And good things always leave you wanting to more. Right?
In short, if you haven’t seen the film. Go do it. It’s now out in most theaters across the country. During a time when cold weather is upon us, a Trump America looms, and Sallie Mae is trying to imprisoned more people than the justice system, this movie will add a little sunshine to your day. I know it added quite a bit to mine.