On the 14th day of November, my eyes were widened. It’s on that day that I crept out into the night with my older sister and father, (who found a way to invite himself to go with us) to see the film “Moonlight.” I had seen trailers advertised a few weeks prior. I found them to be somewhat vague, yet enough to stir my curiosity. So when my sister, Ebony, extended the invitation to go see the movie, I didn’t hesitate.
Directed by Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight” centers around a young black boy named Chiron (played at various ages by Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes). Within the opening minutes of the film, we’re introduced to Chiron’s source of conflict — he’s gay. We see him, running as he is harassed by neighborhood boys as they chase him with sticks and yell slurs at him while we also meet an influential character we will come to know later. That character is Juan (played by “House of Cards” and “Luke Cage” actor Mahershala Ali), who happens to be a drug dealer and a father figure for Chiron. The film goes on to build on Juan and Chiron’s relationship with Juan teaching him how to swim, which proves to be a pretty profound moment for Chiron. Juan also tells Chiron that he is allowed to make his own name after hearing that the other children call him “Little” despite already knowing his name.
Days for Chiron aren’t spent happily at the ocean, however. We are introduced to his domestic problems at home with his mother, a drug addict. Chiron later discovers that Juan is selling to her. He finds solace with Juan and his girlfriend Teresa (who is played by Janelle Monaé), as they begin to take care of him on a nightly basis.
At school, he becomes friends with a boy named Kevin who teaches him how to defend himself so the other kids won’t pick on him so much. Later, Kevin (played at age 16 by Jharrel Jerome) becomes a significant person in Chiron’s life as his lover.
I won’t give away too much, but as the film emerges in three parts [i. Little, ii. Chiron, iii. Black], as Chiron, at different ages, becomes more aware of his sexuality and the obstacles that it can often create. He suffers through many human emotions, including anger and betrayal, many of which stir the audience’s own reactions. The film is beautifully shot and has a relatable, remarkable storyline. “Moonlight” left a lasting impression on myself as well as my perception of how people can be different from myself yet similar, particularly those found in the black gay community.
I’ve never had much of a tolerance for those who harass people for the sole fact that they’re different, but I’m especially passionate about those who try to persecute gays. I see no rationale as to how you can hate a person for something they can’t change. “Moonlight” also showed me more insight into the love lives of gay men, which isn’t often displayed in the serious light that I saw in “Moonlight,” compared to the more light-hearted relationships such as the one in the ABC sitcom “Modern Family.”
It was a refreshing perspective, and I highly encourage you to support and view this movie while it’s still in theaters.
Billaé, is a member of the VOX Investigates team this semester and a sophomore at Tucker High School.