Set in Liberty City, a Miami, Florida neighborhood, this tale illuminates the dynamic social-economic hurdles navigated by this urban gay community. Moonlight is a tale of truth, no matter how dark. This transformative tale shows viewers a character who finds peace by diving into that truth. As if love alone isn’t already enough to drive most of us loopy. In the most cliche absent manner Barry Jenkins brought tales of love, addiction, understanding & truth to screen. Moonlight began as In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Like the plots of this movies characters, their plots were intertwined long ago. ‘Moonlight’ was set in their hometown, they attended the same elementary schools, yet did not meet until this screenplay opportunity began do develop.
This homegrown film is booming with authenticity. My mans even had a big body with the crown air freshener. In the opening scene Juan (Mahershala Ali) is thumping “Every Nigger is a Star.” Initially, many millennials would think they’re hearing Wesley’s Theory from’s To Pimp A Butterfly, but no. Its Boris Gardiner’s intro his 1973 album of the same title.
This scene is from the 80s in the heat of the ‘Crackademic.’ He hops out of the car, a 70’s Impala on chrome, for morning check in. Our main character, Chiron, zooms through the scene running from bullies. Even Alex R. Hibbert, who played young Chiron through the movies first act, is from the M.I.A. The camera pans around our main characters during their first social interactions we see. Focused on the center of their world in Liberty City. Never casting a gaze too far down the road.
During the second act of the movie we find Chiron in High School. Though he is dealing with many of the same issues introduced to us in the initial scene, we find him in the crux of his growing pains. Chiron begins to figure out how to transcend his fears. He shifts his perspective and begins to take control of traumatizing situations & relationships.
Locked in on Liberty City, we hear the dialect, music & truth of their time portrayed clearly. For the first two acts this film does not leave the village. You know, that extended family we have in our urban jungles (as some would like to imagine it). The extra set of grandmas, cousins, mom & dads that aren’t biological. These extensions have become a logical means to preserve communities ravaged by addiction, violence & drug wars. There are many positive influences that come those in substandard circumstances.
The third act is about personal truth. While there is not extensive dialogue in the conclusion of the film. Viewers are brought up to date in more of a real time format. Body language, attire & other ques speak volumes. A chopped-n-screwed version of ‘Classic Man’ twice during the final act. Some may try to write this film off as the ratchet black back mountain before watching. I assure you, it’s much deeper than that. It’s one of my favorite screenplays since, “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” This is a
classic classy display of ‘urban’ intimacy, allowing you to be suspended in the moments. ‘Moonlight’ shows that being perfect, isn’t being perfect, it’s being you.