Moonlight // American Film Review

Welcome to Queer Fudanshi. Let’s Talk. In this post we’re going to talk about Moonlight.

Moonlight is an American film that follows the life of Chiron. The film was adapted from the unproduced play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the soon to be Chair of Playwriting at the Yale School of Drama. The story splits up moments in his life into three sections, one for childhood, his teenage years, and his adulthood separably. In addition, the film speaks about the different circumstances and trials Chiron has to go through while growing up as a gay man in the black community and being surrounded by drugs and violence.

My Thoughts Before Watching:

I’ve already discussed Moonlight once on the blog where I talked about how it’s on the fast track to the Oscars. Since then, the film has been nominated for several Golden Globes including Best Screenplay, Best Score, Best Drama Motion Picture, and Best Supporting Actor and Actress. And yet, I still hadn’t seen the film! Well, I’ve changed that now, and am ready to talk about it with you guys.

This is Moonlight.

The Trailer:

Where to Watch:

Moonlight is currently playing in theaters, so check to see if it is playing near you.

The Talk (Spoilers Ahead):

This film is a solid and enjoyable movie, and I can understand why it has been heralded as an award worthy film. First off, it just screams that it’s an artistic film. Not only is the story by itself noteworthy, but the directorial choses within the film make it seem more like an artsy film. There is classical music playing over speechless scenes, or scenes that have a shifting focus on the camera so that one moment the background is blurry and the next its in focus while an actor or two is not.

In addition, while this story is about the life of a gay man, it isn’t necessarily a gay film. The story doesn’t not feel overwhelmingly focused on the topic of homosexuality even though that topic is very much at the center. That’s because the film is truly focuses on showing Chiron and his world as a whole and not spotlighting this one fact about him. But again, that one fact does have an influence on his life so it is always present. It’s like cream in coffee. Once you add it it’s always there, but it could either be heavily added to change the drink or it could just be a flavor enhancement to the already powerful drink.

I. Little

Alex Hibbert, left, and Mahershala Ali (David Bornfriend/A24 via AP)

The thing that took the most focus in this part of the story was the relationship between Chiron (known as Little here) and Juan. I have to say that I truly enjoyed the dynamic between these two character. This idea of a found family was endearing. This is especially true considering the fact that Little, and many children in the American Black community, was living without his father. That lead to me connecting with the characters and their relationship even more.

I also have to say that Mahershala Ali (who plays Juan) is having a good year. Between being on the Marvel/Netflix series Luke Cage in November and then having this role here, he must be celebrating all the public attention. That said, hopefully he’ll get a role that doesn’t die halfway through in the near future.

Lastly, I wanna speak on the situation that happened between Juan and Chiron’s mother Paula. That whole situation and conversation of “Yes, I’m a crack addict. Yes, I’m raising my son wrong, but you’re the one giving me the dope. Are you gonna raise him?” That was deep. Deeper than the Pacific Ocean. I really applaud the writing (which in this case I think goes to the original playwright) for bringing that situation out.

II. Chiron

Ashton Sanders, left, and Naomie Harris (David Bornfriend/A24 via AP)

The middle section of Moonlight was about Chiron’s childhood years and was perhaps my favorite part of the story. Maybe that’s because that’s the closest age to my own. Maybe that’s because I read too many high school plots. Or, maybe that’s because it had one of the most odious characters I’ve come across since creating this blog.

Terrel (played by Patrick Decile) was the perfect antagonist. I hated him from the start. When he started talking crap (note that I’m censoring myself, but really wanna start cursing when I think about this character), I was having all kinds of negative thoughts in my head. I was thinkin’ things like, “Don’t let that (curse word) talk to you like that. You need to beat that (curse word) down to the ground. Talkin’ foolish (curse word). Let a (curse word) know. (Followed by an eternal line of curse words).”

Because of all that built up hatred, I felt sweet, sweet release when the chair happened. Part of me doesn’t even wanna talk about it so that I don’t spoil the surprise for those who still haven’t seen it (but are ok with reading these spoiler posts). Anyway, just know that I almost became a stereotype when it happened. I almost jumped up and screamed when that chair hit the floor.

In addition, I have to say that Chiron was really in a tough situation. He was being asked to snitch on Terrel, Kevin, and the two nameless extras. If he did so, he would have been hounded not only by those four, but by other people in the school and the community. So, he took the violent route. Mind you, I’m not condoning violence, but I recognize the dilemma the character was in.

III. Black

André Holland, left, and Trevante Rhodes (David Bornfriend/A24 via AP)

Little got BIG guys. At the start of this section of the film I was honestly just surprised how large the character had gotten physically and how dark his life had gotten since his innocent little days. That said, with the help of great acting on Trevante Rhodes’s part, the character showed his softness on the inside. I love how he seemed all hard at first, but as soon as he got a call from Kevin he physically and audibly softened. That was absolutely adorable and was again was a great show of acting by Rhodes.

As for Kevin, I feel like I should speak about him in this post, but I honestly don’t have much to say about him. While seeing him at his different stages was interesting, child Kevin was fun and outgoing, Teenage Kevin was a player who hung out with the wrong people, and adult Kevin was mature and at peace with the world, I didn’t love the character. I think the most important thing about Kevin was his influence on Chiron.

Lastly, I have to end on my one complaint about Moonlight and that is that it ended too abruptly. It was almost as if the director was like, “Oh, that’s an hour and fifty minutes. Let’s end there.” While nothing more really needed to be added, I just feel like the film just stopped all of sudden. It was just over. When it ended I just stared at the screen for a second thinking, “Wait, that’s it?” Maybe this is because I watched a film where I got to know and connect with a character, so leaving him felt abrupt. I don’t know for sure, but I am sure that something about the way the film ended just felt too abrupt to me.

In Conclusion

Overall, Moonlight is 100% worthy of the awards attention it is getting. I honestly say that besides the ending have have no complaints or critiques about the film. It’s a solid movie from start to finish.

My rating for Moonlight is 5 stars out of 5 and QF star. What’s Yours?