Understanding identity may be one of the most important battles that one confronts throughout life. Many films throughout time have touched on finding one’s identity, however, Moonlight deciphers this in an incredibly human way.
Set in the ghettos of Miami, the story Moonlight follows a boy named Chiron in three different stages. Chiron, born to a crack addicted mother under harsh circumstances, finds it hard to fit within the society and community in which he lives.
Throughout Chiron’s journey, he struggles with self-identity along with his sexual orientation. In part one of the story, Chiron befriends a young couple that takes him in as he needs. From this couple, he develops a sense of knowledge and self-respect. This relationship serves as the base for this young boy as he grows older in the last two stages.
Director Barry Jenkins does an incredible job keeping all three parts incredibly distinct. This style of storytelling allows the audience to accurately depict the progression of the protagonist.
It’s true when people say it takes a village to raise a child. Moonlight chronicles the social interactions that Chiron has throughout his time as a boy and those elements help the audience understand, in a sense where the film is going.
In part two of the film, Chiron – at age sixteen now – still finds trouble fitting in. The audience has a much better outlook of the inner struggle he faces, specifically with his sexual orientation, and the struggle finding it within a culture which is incredibly hyper-masculine.
The film foreshadows the results incredibly well, of some of the realities that Chiron faces.
Stage three of the film focuses mainly on the relationship between Chiron and Kevin – a childhood friend introduced in part one and evolved in part two. As Chiron comes back home, portrayed as a masculine drug dealer, he rekindles his relationship with Kevin. This relationship becomes the basis of his travels back home and ruminates a more important theme: Identity.
Overall, the film depicts an incredibly difficult scenario in which a man is trying to find his sexual identity as well as his personal identity all the while, attempting to navigate through a hyper-masculine culture. Jenkins could have done a better job, however, with giving a little more depth within each character with respect to each part of the film. Other than that, a well-developed film with a passionate plot that almost anyone can relate to.
*Moonlight was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Writing Adapted Screenplay.*