Moonlight | Teen Ink


July 18, 2018
By MadProphet SILVER, Tallahassee, Florida
MadProphet SILVER, Tallahassee, Florida
8 articles 0 photos 0 comments

This is perhaps one of the greatest pieces of filmmaking that I have seen in a very long time. Everything about this movie is outstanding and beautiful. Barry Jenkins does such a great job of portraying how our experiences, both the good and the bad, truly shape who we are as human beings. I loved the soundtrack and the cinematography especially. This film is simply an engaging masterpiece that definitely was not what I was expecting.

Moonlight depicts three important stages in the life of the protagonist, Chiron. The film begins by showing the first chapter in Chiron's life, titled "Little." The audience sees that Chiron is a quiet and reserved character who is often tormented by his peers. He is eventually taken in by Juan, a drug dealer, and his girlfriend, Teresa. It is also revealed that Chiron's mother is a crack addict who receives her drugs from Juan. In this chapter, Chiron meets Kevin, who introduces Chiron to the realities of boyhood. The second chapter, titled "Chiron," focuses on Chiron during his adolescence. Chiron is still tormented by bullies and his mother has slipped further into addiction. However, Chiron reunites with Kevin and the two smoke a blunt on the beach (among other things). The next day, Kevin is pressured by a bully into fighting Chiron and this results in Chiron retaliating by beating the bully with a chair. Chiron is arrested and moves to Atlanta with his mother. The third and final chapter, titled "Black," focuses on Chiron's adulthood. It is shown that Chiron has become a muscular drug dealer who resembles Juan. His mother, on the other hand, has been rehabilitated and wishes that Chiron would abandon the criminal life. Chiron and Kevin meet again at the restaurant where Kevin works. They discuss how they each progressed in life and drive to Kevin's. Once there, Chiron reveals that Kevin is the only person to ever touch him sexually. The two then embrace each other and the film concludes with a shot of black children playing under the moonlight.

There is deep internal conflict with the character of Chiron. Throughout the film he is depicted struggling with his sexuality and masculinity. We see that Chiron copes with these internal struggles by being a quiet and reserved individual. Chiron's questioning of his sexuality is only further complicated by his relationship with Kevin. Chiron internalizes a lot of the personal traumas that he undergoes and this creates the character that the audience sees in the final chapter of the movie, a hardened and physically muscular individual who survives by intimidating those around him.

The theme of bullying is present throughout a majority of the film. The audience sees that Chiron has dealt with bullies since childhood and we see the effect that this has on his character. There is also a complicated conflict that ensues between Kevin and Chiron, both characters are eager to validate their masculinity and this results in them being pitted against each other.

While this film doesn't make a point of directly responding to social issues, Jenkins does address issues of poverty, drug abuse and homophobia through his characters. We see that a lot of what drives the conflict in this film are issues that are caused by society. Juan's desperation for financial security leads to him unknowingly supporting Chiron's mother's crack addiction. Traditional society's emphasis on hyper masculinity results in the teenage males engaging violence simply for the sake of validation.

Another aspect of this film that I enjoyed was the visual symbolism. Moonlight places heavy emphasis on the color blue throughout the film, and this results in some memorably dope sequences that left me mesmerized. I also love how the film foreshadows the fight that is to take place between Chiron and Kevin by having the two playfully wrestle each other as children.

At its core, Moonlight is a film that addresses a lot of the issues that afflict the Black community, but it does so through the unique perspective of a black male questioning his sexuality. This movie shows the way that hyper masculinity can detrimentally affect young people and how love can rectify this.

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