"Moonlight" Shines

Over Thanksgiving break, I finally made it out to see the movie of the year, and probably the most important film of 2016, “Moonlight”.  I’ll say it right now, this film was phenomenal and a true masterpiece, completely deserving a 9.5/10 rating.

The story follows an African American boy, Chiron, all the way into adulthood through his heartbreaking experience growing up in Miami as a “soft” outcast, tolerating his crack addict mother, finding comfort in the local drug dealer, and befriending another African American boy named Kevin.  It is his romantic connection with Kevin as he grows older that opens his eyes to who he truly is and what he wants, which is to love and be loved for who he is.

Visually stunning, each frame was beautifully filmed and each shot was a work of art.  There was not an intense amount of dialogue, but writer and director Barry Jenkins made up for it through body language, a fitting variety of music, and emotional tugs.  It allows you to fill in the blanks for yourself.  The film was an experience more than anything, and I submerged myself in it completely.  Although I wished it was a tad longer to tie up some loose ends, it was still unique and not your average gay movie – totally not what I was expecting; honest and fresh.

“Moonlight” is important not only for the LGBTQ community or the African American community, but also for those who have ever suffered for being different, for not fully understanding who they are, and for those who have experienced what it’s like to forgive or be forgiven.  Through Cheron’s experiences with being bullied for being gay, it reminds viewers how literally unsafe it can feel to be out, and Cheron wasn’t even formally out throughout the bulk of the movie.

I feel so strongly about this movie, as do many others, because movies like “Moonlight” (which features two gay black men) is representing a group of people that hardly get screen time or are even considered part of the black community.  When the films previews were floating around Facebook, I took the time to read some of the comments beneath the videos to see what other viewers had to say about this much anticipated movie.  To no surprise, there were homophobes littering the comments section, and shockingly the majority were African Americans claiming that this film did not speak for them, that it did not represent them, that the actors in it were “a waste of black skin” – meanwhile, there are LGBTQ folks that are part of the African American community, saying that this is one of the few movies that they can come to theaters to watch and feel understood.  I think that’s the main takeaway, that people from these communities can come and feel comforted by Cheron’s struggles and his deep connection with Kevin, and that they’re being represented.  To me that’s what matters.

As consumers we need to support movies like this one - I’m praying it gets nominated for an academy award so that it may gain even more national attention. So go watch it, get yourself out of your comfort zone if a movie like this is new for you, and immerse yourself in the work of art that is “Moonlight”.

Monique Sempertegui