Moonlight: Film Review – The Real Face of America

Verdict: A heart-breaking yet beautiful portrayal of reality.

The month of February brings several acclaimed Hollywood movies to Indian screens. Many films, which did not release in India, will now hit the theatres, as they have been nominated for the prestigious Academy Awards, commonly known as the Oscars. One such movie which is hard to miss is Moonlight. From the trailer, Moonlight looks like a movie which deals with the black community in America, with an insight into the life of a little boy named Chiron. Portrayed in three stages, Moonlight reminds you of Boyhood, but with a more emotionally jarring storyline. It depicts the struggles of a boy to come to terms with his identity in a very regressive society. In the present-day United States, movies like Moonlight are the need of the hour.

The first stage of the movie – Little – shows Chiron (Alex Hibbert) as a young boy, being chased by older kids. Skinny and shy, you can see why the boy is an easy target for bullies. Juan (Mahershala Ali), a crack dealer, along with his girlfriend, Teresa (Janelle Monáe), finds him and cares for him. Unwilling to speak at first, Chiron slowly opens up to Juan about his abusive crack-addict mother Paula (Naomie Harris). In the second stage – Chiron – the boy (Ashton Sanders) is a teenager, and still bullied by his peers. However, he finds a friend in his classmate Kevin, with whom he forms a strong bond. In this stage, Chiron begins to explore his sexuality and realizes where his preferences lie. But a betrayal from a trustworthy friend causes Chiron to become violent and is subsequently sent to juvie. In the final stage – Black – Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) is a full-grown man and a drug dealer. A call from the past pulls him back into the life he longed to leave behind and face reality.

Moonlight still - BookMyShow

What makes Moonlight so relevant is that it shows the side of America, which is not often depicted in Hollywood. The lives of the minority race, their early exposure to the world of crime, and the homophobia that exists in society is the theme of the movie, with a very grim portrayal of the same. The various roles of Chiron manage to gain your sympathy, with every actor bringing an added element to the character. Little is meek and needs help, while teenage Chiron takes matters into his own hands. Black is an adult hardened by the injustice he has faced in the past. All the three actors play the part well, especially Trevante Rhodes, the ex-athlete who seems to have found his calling in acting. Oscar-nominee Mahershala Ali gives an award-worthy performance, but it is Naomie Harris, who captures the attention with her best performance till date.

Moonlight does not aim to make you feel sorry for Chiron or any of its other characters. It simply portrays a side of society, which still exists in present-day America, and tries to connect you with that side. Based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the poster and other graphics of the movie also seem to make sense. The cinematography of the film has been beautifully done by James Laxton, capturing the scenic landscape of the seaside as well as the impoverished interior of the ghettos. Barry Jenkins has hit the nail right with this one, and it’s hardly a wonder that the movie bagged the Best Motion Picture – Drama Award at the Golden Globes this year. Whether it manages to crack the Oscars remains to be seen.

Why You Should Watch This Movie:

Still think we are over racism and homophobia? Watch Moonlight and you'll realize why these continue to remain a problem even today. See the world from the point of view of the lesser privileged. If this does not affect you, simply catch a beautiful movie, which is leading in the race for the Oscars. It will be worth your time.

Release Date: Feb 17, 2017
Language: English
Director: Barry Jenkins
Genre: Drama
Cast & Crew: Alex Hibbert, Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monáe, Naomie Harris
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