On February 26th, 2017, the film Moonlight took home “best picture” from the 89th Academy Awards Ceremony. And rightfully so. Moonlight, to me, was a little piece of positivity and beauty running through a world of cruelty and hardships- a beautiful vein to tap into right now.
Starring Mahershala Ali, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes, Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris (to name a few), Moonlight is a film about a young black man (Chiron, played by Sanders and Rhodes) growing up in Miami and his journey through manhood while finding his truest, most honest place in this world. It starts in Chiron’s teenage years and following him through his manhood going through or witnessing drug abuse, mass incarceration, school violence, and more, but to say that these are essentials as the plot is not all. The film more importantly (in my humble opinion) involves hyper-masculinity and what it means and how dangerous it is to all of us. Moonlight dives into the world of black masculinity and black male intimacy, dignity, and beauty. I won’t release too much of the plot in fear of spoiling too much and I also do believe that for those who haven’t seen it, it is better to go into this film not knowing anything/ too much at all.
Something about the pacing and quietness of the movie entirely reset my mood and thoughts for days (Weeks! Months!) . I don’t know if that’s a valid way to describe a film, but so be it. Rarely does a film keep my brain turning in a calm yet specific manner as Moonlight did when I watched it. Each character was so perfectly well-rounded, yet never forced. We see the characters, especially Chiron, for who they are. We SEE him. For the full human that he is and I think that isn’t too common in films. Whether through the relationships between the characters whether they be romantic, familial, platonic.
Moonlight was a subtle reminder that we all need connection and that in a sense, we are all already connected. In the ocean, under the stars. I left that movie wanting to tell those around me that I loved them while playing in the ocean on a starry night. Not to mention, it was also such a relief seeing a film where Whiteness wasn’t centered nor was it even a consideration (something I realized upon watching it for the third time).
Moonlight is transformative, haunting, and almost unbearingly beautiful. To know these characters and this movie is a privilege to me and I cannot recommend it enough for all to watch.