I should probably be writing this in the nighttime walking through an alleyway.
It has taken me awhile, but I have finally watched the Barry Jenkins film ‘Moonlight’. I was initially hesitant because of the silliness at the Oscars that overshadowed, if only for a hot sec, the movie itself.
Jenkins has made a beautiful piece of art, as evidenced by the film’s Oscar win. It is an auteur piece, by which I mean he wrote and directed it, and I am hugely biased in favour of such movies. (The creative control of the director/screenwriter means that the message is clearer and auteurs don’t make films sans message).
But, beyond my appreciation of the method in and of itself, what I liked was how much I connected with lead Chiron. ‘Moonlight’ showed his progression from youth to manhood in three sections. He is from a troubled home in a troubled neighbourhood in Miami and we see him struggling with the reality of his exterior as well as his personal struggles. He’s gay, has a drug-addicted mother and no father until he meets a man named Juan.
Mahershala Ali played Juan, a drug dealer who sells to Chiron’s mom, and it was easy to see why there was so much hype around his performance. The scenes between him and child-Chiron were sweet, they were accepting, they made me miss something about my childhood that I didn’t realize I wanted. What resounded the most for me, on a personal note, was this relationship between Juan and Chiron because it was so caring. It was so… I don’t know how to express myself without just hugging myself very tightly
The latter ends up becoming a drug dealer after he spends time in prison. He ends up, by the third act of the movie, in the same place as Juan. This is a clear comment on how trauma and pain is past along, in my humble opinion. Chiron, in the last scene as a schoolboy, confronts Juan about the matter and both are understandably shaken and hurt. Like father, like son though. Juan dies by the time we see Chiron in high school. Hits very close to home for me, given the death of my father, and well it’s a very personalized look at this growing into a man. Of making mistakes and letting those mistakes make you.
Perhaps that is what is so touching about this movie, the reality of it. There is no dream for Chiron, just anger. There is no plan for the future because when your past has been, well, shit, you don’t expect much from the future.
But, as Juan says to Chiron, ‘every man must make a choice in life about who they want to be.’