In Moonlight, Medicine for Melancholy director, Barry Jenkins, leaves the black and white love story set against a gentrifying San Francisco behind for the darkly brilliant kaleidoscope of 1980s Miami. His second feature maintains a lilting, poetic quality but is a more colorful, and brutal film by all measures.
You may be thinking “80s Miami? Sign me up for twin white Lamborghini Countaches
ripping down South Beach as the wind blows through the hair on the chest of all silken clad driver.” While we’re all up for that movie at some time or another, this isn’t another cokeboy come-up story. Instead, it is an exploration (at times an unbearable one) on coming of age in a beautiful nightmare.
is based off of the unproduced play / Yale drama school application essay, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue
, which does also suggest that grad school may not be a utter and complete waste of time. The theatrical influence is clear in the story’s three chapter structure, each one following Chiron, our young hero, through a day in his life as a child, an adolescent, and finally as a man.
In case you were unaware, being a gay black man in the South, even in Miami, isn’t as sweet as it may sound. It definitely sounds bad when Chiron is beaten down by bullies repeatedly throughout the trailer. Themes of black masculinity, peer pressure, fakery and racially idealized imagery permeate throughout, and hold resonance for most humans (and probably about 80% of rappers…)
Moonlight is also an important movie considering two of 2016’s major hashtags, #OscarsSoWhite
, and #BlackLivesMatter
. This movie is catching hella buzz and contains almost no white people, a move that creates tons of space for the film to explore the fragmented and nuanced world of black America in general, and specifically the experience of gay black men.
Not your thing? Do it for Janelle Monae aka “Janelle MoBae.” Or do for Mahershala Ali, most recently known for his role in Netflix’s Luke Cage
, but who is clawing his way up the grim morass of network TV crime procedurals and into America’s hearts. Support the hustle. Help get that man recognized. The fact that almost no one saw his standout performance in Free State of Jones
is a travesty.
Moonlight is out in select theaters now and opens nationwide Thursday October 27.