Moonlight

Moonlight ★★★★★

Hello, stranger
It seems so good to see you back again
How long has it been?
It seems like a mighty long time

Oh-uh-oh, I my, my, my, my
I'm so glad
you stopped by to say "hello" to me
Remember that's the way it used to be
Oh, it seems like a mighty long time
It seems like a mighty long time

If you're not gonna stay
please don't treat me like you did before
Because I still love you so although
It seems like a mighty long time
It seems like a mighty long time

I'm so happy that you're here again

The few small problems that I had with this film the first time around melted away upon repeat viewing. And, like La La Land and Arrival, Moonlight has asserted its themes with more clarity and precision than the first go around.

Perhaps I was so gobsmacked by the acting the first time around that I failed to notice it, but Jenkins' masterpiece of compassion is a film totally baptized in water. Chiron returns to it over and over: to heal his wounds, as a source rejuvenation, as a rite of passage. Even in the last scene Chiron remarks that it's all he drinks. Like the lapping waves of ocean water, the layers of identity that Chiron builds up over the course of the film ebb and flow according to the specters of figures past - most obviously that of the paternal drug dealer Juan.

Jenkins also uses color to greater effect than I noticed the first time around. In my first review, I remarked that in the final chapter - Black - Chiron wears a black shirt and shuttles himself around in a black muscle car with a license plate that reads "BLACK". And, this is true, but the color metaphor extends through the entire runtime of the film. At the beginning, Chiron wears white. He's innocent and it shows in how Juan and Teresa try to shield him from a world bearing down on him like the globe Atlas carries. In the second chapter, Chiron covers that white shirt up with a button-down. He's building up layers of armor so the world can't hurt him. He's slowly shifting his identity to what the world expects of him. And, finally, in our last chapter, the armor is complete. He's taken on the identity of precisely the people who tried to crush him under their foot. He's a classic man.

There's a lot more to discuss: the clear fingerprint of Wong Kar-Wai, the idea of sexuality, how Jenkins explores race and isolation. But, I'll leave that for repeat viewings. For now, Moonlight is a 5/5.

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