Finding oneself is already difficult enough when we know it’s still a search even deeper down into one’s own soul contrasting the image we see on the outside. It became clear to me from that very idea what I was set to love about Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight and soon enough I was more than just enamored with the experience in which it provided. Where I come from it was never easy to get past one layer of my own self that would set my own image, but I’ve found comfort somehow as time went on and as I was watching Moonlight, everything flashed back right in front of my eyes like a bullet.
Chiron is a peculiar soul, and he has remained such through all his life. We are told his story about how he becomes the person whom he is from his childhood, to his adolescence to the present day. Yet there’s an underlying cleverness to what Barry Jenkins leaves behind which makes Moonlight something all the more beautiful. As each act runs its course, Barry Jenkins utilizes perspective in order to elevate Chiron’s arc as it weaves through the structuring to which Moonlight is allowing itself to follow. We get a grasp of how others around him end up looking at him, a critical factor to where the core power of Moonlight only finds itself set to rise even higher up.
It is already difficult enough trying to put together what sort of an experience watching Moonlight was for myself because there were too many times in which I was watching and I told myself that even I was never sure what exactly I was to make of where my own path was set. I’m still at a point of my life where I’m fairly young, so just as much as I have a lot to learn about the world around me I still have a whole lot to learn even about myself, and maybe I’m not digging in far enough to know exactly what truly is what I would define as my own comfort zone. Eventually, there will come a point I let everything out but as I look upon Chiron’s own quest to discover more about himself through the many encounters he makes within his life, I was only moved all the more.
At its core, we have a film about accepting oneself as they are and how this isolated perspective has more to offer if one chooses to understand, as shown between the moments between Chiron and Kevin. As a child, Chiron and Kevin are best friends and have remained such all the way to adulthood. He is not the first person whom we see to understand Chiron is more than what he seems, for after he is found by Juan, Juan gives a lesson to the young boy to be remembered all through his own life. It is not only the result of a phenomenal performance on the end of Mahershala Ali, but Jenkins’s care for an understanding of Chiron’s point of view without coming from his own eyes. Maybe it might have been because it never was his point of view it was ever to leave that personal effect it presented.
Barry Jenkins’s efforts are not merely beautiful from that point onward but he never flinches away from what holds Moonlight together. From detailing moments that range from the abuse Chiron deals with coming from his mother or peers of all sorts, there’s still a strange sense of beauty that comes out from how such sequences are assembled that ultimately makes for a rewarding watch. Everything looks beautiful (with some of the best cinematography to have come out from this year thus far), sounds beautiful (the score is truly orgasmic from first note to last), and is fueled through a grand sense of honesty from his own attention to detail – a wonderful tapestry comes about.
Moonlight is a film that speaks more on the inside if one can listen enough. There’s so much heart that comes about even from the simplest of actions that take place, and it only goes to show what power is contained right on the spot. What will hit at least once within our lives is a specific point to which we are unsure what we truly are even to ourselves, and on that count it is incredible what Moonlight can capture not only in Chiron’s perspective but in the world’s ignorance for how he feels because they choose not to understand him under an identity to which even he must discover about himself. There has never been a better time for Moonlight to come out. Exceptional is only one word to describe it, but that would only make everything seem as if it were just typical.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via A24.
Directed by Barry Jenkins
Screenplay by Barry Jenkins
Produced by Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner
Starring Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali
Release Year: 2016
Running Time: 110 minutes