“At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you’re going to be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you.” – Juan to Chiron (Moonlight)
This is the phrase which reverberates throughout the 74th Academy awards winning movie, Moonlight. Lately, you must have seen a lot of Hollywood movies dealing with the theme of searching one’s own identity, exploration of self or going through an identity crisis. But, one thing those movies never portrayed was the journey of self discovery of a character who is socially, culturally and economically marginalized. This is what the director producer of Moonlight, Barry Jenkins beautifully portrays through the cinematic front.
Moonlight, is basically a bildungsroman of an African-American boy called, Chiron. The story is set against the time when there was a crack crisis (drug-dealing) in Miami city. The timeline of this movie is divided into three parts. It begins with Chiron in his early childhood, then his struggling teenage years and finally, concludes with Chiron being a fully grown up man. Audience is served with three broad social questions as soon as the first part sets into motion. The first two obvious questions being the cultural & economical marginalization faced by an African-American in a white man’s land. Third being the question of homosexuality. Chiron is called, “little” at school because of his homosexuality and he has Paula, who has completely failed as a mother due to her obsessive addiction with drugs. The unfortunate part is that he is neither aware of being gay nor has someone to talk about it. Finally, he finds a father-figure in Juan, a drug dealer, who probes Chiron to find his own identity and come to terms with it.
But soon, Juan is also snatched away from Chiron by the hands of death. Then, comes the second phase, where we see Chiron stepping into his teenage years. He is already carrying a ruptured psychology and a mother who is a non-existent entity in his life. He is still bullied for being gay. But, amongst all this, his friend Kevin comes to his rescue. He provides him the familial support and even helps him understand his sexuality. There is a scene where they kiss each other and share some intimate moments on a moonlit beach. Soon this also fades away when Chiron gets arrested for hurting a fellow student.
In the third and final phase, we see Chiron coming out of prison and becoming a dealer of drugs. At this point, he forgives his mother for failing terribly at motherhood and is reunited with Kevin. Although, Kevin is now married to a woman, he expresses his discomfort towards the ways things turned out for him. This shows how most of the black gay men are impelled by the society to confirm to hetero-normative relations. Chiron confesses his love for Kevin and the scene ends with the two embracing each other.
Undoubtedly, it is a must watch movie and Barry Jenkins has done a marvelous job. He has provided a prestigious place in the cinema to explore the potentials & struggles of “Black Lives”.
What are your thoughts on this movie? Have you seen it yet or not? Or are you planning to watch it anytime soon? And do you think I should do movie reviews along with book reviews? Share your opinions in the comments section below.