Moonlight is the story of Chiron (Alex Hibbert, Aston Sanders, Trevante Rhodes) told during 3 distinct points in his life; adolescent, teen, and young adult years. Chiron is a black boy who grew up in a poor neighborhood to a drug addicted mother who was never around to take care of him. He befriends a local drug dealer (Mahershala Ali) who acts more like a parent to Chiron that his own mother. He finds someone in life who he can trust. During his teenage years, Chiron is a loser who the bullies pick on. He finds comfort in his friend Kevin (Jharrel Jarome) and begins to question his own sexuality, but when Kevin destroys his trust, Chiron is heartbroken. The last 3rd of the movie is when Chiron is a man in his twenties who is strong, powerful and a dope dealer himself. He hasn’t trusted anyone in a long time and he hasn’t felt love, even from the mother whom he hates. Out of the blue, Kevin returns to cause plenty of feeling inside Chiron to resurface.
Moonlight is a pure drama through and through. It takes a look at the human soul of one child thoughout the years that shaped who he is. It goes from a shy, mistreated boy who finally finds the attention he needs, to a teen who is picked on and bullied, to an adult who is strong, confident and alone inside.
Sadly to say, Moonlight is too dry for me. The first 30 minutes of the movie is interesting and captivating as young Chiron befriends and builds trust with the drug dealer Juan. Juan gives Chiron respect and teaches him several things that a father would normally teach his son. I wished this was the entire movie. I like movies where the message is love and trust. The bond here is smooth and the chemistry is good. Chiron feels safe and returns to see Juan over and over.
Once the movie moves forward to his teenage days, it feels as if the 2 time periods are disconnected. Chiron is a loser who is constantly picked on, teased and belittled. He is constantly told by his mother to “go find a place to stay for the night because you can’t stay here.” For some reason that the audience doesn’t really see coming, Chiron begins to have dreams about his best friend Kevin and then it becomes obvious that Chiron has homosexual tendencies. During this time I really had to analyze my own feelings on the subject because I really didn’t see this addition to Chiron as necessary. It isn’t the focal point of his character, and maybe that is the point. People who are “straight” in movies don’t have to announce this so me feeling like this aspect was too random caused me to evaluate my own feelings towards this subject. If someone is gay in a movie does it need to be the main focus? Does it need to be addressed like it is something different that someone who is straight? Many teen comedies out there show plenty of teen girls and boys experimenting with each other and it’s normal for these types of movies, but why did this aspect feel different for me. I’m not homophobic and I am not offended by people who are homosexual, in fact, I have many gay friends, but this part of the movie had me pause and wonder why it felt so odd to me. What I ultimately gathered was that homosexual experimentation to Chiron is just as common a struggle as being bullied or worrying about his mother. Because of the way many movies show homosexual acts, I’ve been taught to think it should be more of a “front and center” thing, but I guess it doesn’t have to be.
The last part of the movie show us how Chiron has grown into his own. He is successful yet hides behind a confident shell. When he hears from Kevin again after a decade, he doesn’t know how to feel. He hasn’t felt anything for anyone in years and he still hates his mother, even though he still sees her and listens to the things she has to say. When Chiron sees Kevin again, Kevin is a flawed man, but he knows what he wants and knows how to be humble. He wishes to repair things with Chiron, but Chiron doesn’t know how to express his feelings now that Kevin has returned. This is why the movie loses me. Chiron is really boring! He doesn’t talk much. He doesn’t articulate his feelings. He is closed off and has little in terms of personality! I just couldn’t watch this character and feel anything for him. I didn’t feel sorry for him nor could I relate with him in any way.
At the end of the day, because of the odd and quiet personality of the main character, I just couldn’t invest myself fully into caring about Chiron. I enjoyed the film quite a bit at the beginning, but as the complications rolled in and Chiron became more and more bland, I had to check out. I understand how deep and complex this story is and how well it is written, but there is little “entertainment” value here and by the time the ending rolled around, I was ready for it to be done. I didn’t hate Moonlight, but I have no idea who I would recommend this movie to. Co-starring Andre Holland, Duan Sandy Sanderson, Jaden Piner, Janelle Monroe, and Naomie Harris.
5/10 Stars – Moonlight is well told and full of moving moments, however, I couldn’t get past the bland and boring nature of the main character who has little in terms of personality.