Community, Edge, Movies, Reviews

‘Moonlight’ depicts vivid, honest coming-of-age story

20151113_193323_Moonlight_D23_0117.tif

Chiron (Trevante Rhodes, left) reunites with childhood friend Kevin (André Holland, right) at the end of iii: Black, the last installment of “Moonlight.” The story for the film, which takes place in Miami, was written by UM faculty member and MacArthur Genius Tarell McCraney. // Photo courtesy A24 Films.

“Moonlight,” by Barry Jenkins, is a film that rejects clichés, assumptions and stereotypes in order to make a universal statement on the human condition. The movie, which has received universal acclaim with a Metascore of 99 and has been tentatively called the “Year’s Best Movie” by The New York Times, is based on the play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by UM faculty member Tarell McCraney.

Much like a play, the movie is split into three acts. Each act corresponds to what Chiron, the main character, is called during that time in his life.

The first act, “i. Little,” opens with a poignant scene with a drug dealer named Juan (Mahershala Ali). This opening scene sets the tone for the movie’s excellent cinematography. The camera roves 360 degrees around the characters in order to deliver a full portrait.

The film succeeds in doing the same for the main character, Chiron, who is first played by Alex Hibbert. It tells the full story of the protagonist by including specific glimpses while maintaining the full scope of his life. Juan finds Little in a condemned house after he saw him being chased. Juan and his girlfriend Teresa (Janelle Monáe) become a surrogate family for Little. There is irony in the fact that Little’s mother is a crack addict that buys from Juan. She is not there to help her son grow up in the unforgiving, struggling streets of Miami. Juan teaches Little to swim and how to make a world for himself.

In “ii. Chiron,” Chiron, now played by Ashton Sanders, struggles to find himself. He is a gay African-American teenager who suffers from bullying and gets beat up by his best friend days after they shared a sexual experience together. Chiron relocates to Atlanta where the third act, “iii. Black,” takes place. Trevante Rhodes performs the last iteration of Chiron, who now goes by the nickname “Black.”  He becomes a “trapper” like his former mentor Juan, and Chiron’s evolving lifestyle reflects his struggle to find himself. Throughout the film he is asked, “Who is you, Chiron?”

“Moonlight” is a coming-of-age story that is also a film about sexuality, race, relationships and most importantly, identity. “Moonlight” combines these elements to show that we all have complex identities that can be difficult to understand and accept. The movie is a mirror of society, highlighting both positive and negative aspects.

The film comes to a close with the reunion of Chiron and his friend from the past during an intimate scene at a diner, complimented by jukebox music in the background. The soundtrack of the film is exceptional, ranging from classical music to Goodie Mob’s “Cell Therapy.” The movie is not truly over once the credits run; its sheer honesty stays with audiences. “Moonlight” is one of this year’s best and most important films, a masterpiece that will resonate with audiences for years to come.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Featured photo courtesy A24 Films. 

November 6, 2016

Reporters

Tristan Niskanen


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

When the 2018 recruiting cycle came to an end in February, Miami, Florida and Florida State all fini ...

The college football season doesn't begin until the end of August, but that never stops media o ...

There were indications, even before Lonnie Walker IV was selected No. 18 by the San Antonio Spurs in ...

Add another player to the Miami Hurricanes' 2019 recruiting class. Defensive end Jahfari Harvey ...

From the onset, the Miami Hurricanes' plan was for the Carol Soffer football indoor practice fa ...

At the University of Miami, employee recognition comes in many forms. ...

Community art project encourages the public to explore the vibrant downtown area of Coral Gables and ...

It appears that his third run for the presidency will be successful as he distances himself from the ...

Teachers tackle challenging questions at the Holocaust Studies Summer Institute. ...

A University of Miami lecturer explores the role of the front porch in black communities. ...

Anna Runia won the women's 400m hurdles at the Netherlands track and field championships, while ...

The University of Miami volleyball program will host nine ACC home matches and the Sunshine State Ch ...

Walker picked 18th overall by San Antonio Spurs, Brown 42nd by Detroit Pistons. ...

Gino DiMare was introduced as the 10th head baseball coach in Canes' history. ...

The University of Miami women's golf team had three individuals selected to the 2018 Atlantic C ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.