Moonlight, the award-winning movie directed by Barry Jenkins (2016) tells the unique love story of 2 men in Miami. They are both black men, and virtually no movie had ever touched upon the subject of Black homosexuality before; his film breaks boundaries in every way.
The film is divided in 3 acts, the first one intitled “Little”, which is the protagonist’s nickname when he was a child, the second one “Chiron”, his actual name, and the third one “Black” which is the nickname that Kevin, the boy he likes, gives him.
We follow the Chiron’s life through hardships and encounters, led by Juan (Mahershala Ali, who received the Oscar for Best Actor in a supporting role) and his mother (Naomie Harris, nominated for Best Actress in a supporting role). Chiron, as a kid, nicknamed Little, is bullied by his classmates and finds refuge with Juan, who shelters and mentors him. As a teenager, Chiron is harrassed physically and verbally by the school’s bully, but finds comfort in Kevin, with whom he experiences his first love. In the final act, Chiron (also known by Kevin as ‘Black’) finds Kevin.
The movie is almost an autobiographical work. Based on Tarell Alvin McMcCraney‘s story ‘In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue’, Jenkins adapted it. It related both to his life and McCraney’s; both grew up in one of Miami’s poorest neighborhood, during the crack epidemic which caused them to witness very hard experiences and escape it through storytelling.
It felt so close to Jenkin’s experience that he stated that the making of the movie was “very visceral, like working an open wound.”
Coming from a very tough neighborhood, having lived through hard episodes and breaking through to be able to tell a story that transcends social and cultural boundaries is a true feat. Showing truths, making a movie exclusively by and with Black people and telling a rather rare love story (between two men, and between two Black men) has never been seen before in cinema. Jenkins, and McCraney, defy every boundary to show a very human, humble and pure love. We witness Juan and Little’s relationship, one of a mentor and his student, as well as of a father-son relationship. We also get to see the evolution of Chiron and his mother’s behaviors, with a slow decline followed by forgiveness.
This makes it a movie about relationships and growing up, and a coming of age film about finding yourself and forgiving others.