Movie Review: Moonlight (2016)

Author: Iyanna Armwood

“Moonlight,” is a film that all moviegoers should see. Released in 2016 and written and directed by Barry Jenkins “Moonlight,” is an excellent exploration of race, sexuality and isolation that gives face to American harsh realities. The coming-of-age drama follows Chiron, the main character, through three stages of his life as he tries to figure out his identity while fighting the expectations of Miami and the world at large. Chiron is played by Alex R. Hibbert as a child, Ashton Sanders as a teenager and Trevante Rhodes as an adult.

The first arc of the film follows Chiron when is only ten years old. He is referred to as “Little” for being small in stature and he is shown to be bullied by the neighborhood kids. He is saved by a local drug dealer, Juan. Juan and his girlfriend, Teresa, take care of Chiron while Juan teaches him life lessons. This arc best represents the uncertainty and scary feeling of discovering self. “At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you’re going to be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you,” Juan tells Chiron which is a loaded but very true statement.

The second arc focuses on Chiron when he is sixteen. He has to deal with his mother, a verbally abusive drug-addict, at home and long days filled with bullying at school. At some point, he explores his sexuality with his childhood friend only to be betrayed by him later in favor of a hazing ritual. This is an important arc showing that not everyone will accept people for who they are.

The last arc shows Chiron in his early thirties. He has changed drastically in both appearance and attitude. His mother is in rehab and begs to see him. Another of Moonlight’s life lessons is learning to forgive and be vulnerable.

Overall the movie is a quest for identity and place in the world. The actors’ performances possessed a quality that was profoundly real and raw. Audiences will be able to feel the actors emotions in their portrayals .The film carries many messages not to be taken lightly and is one of the best portrayals of what it is like to live as a person of color who is also a member of the LGBT+ community.  It’s filled with love, platonic relationships, betrayal, racial and sexual identity, and drug addiction. This is a movie that anyone who can see should see.     

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