Gazelle Garcia’s review published on Letterboxd:
Just another five star Moonlight review.
By now everyone is anticipating these perfect scores and Oscar buzz even if you haven't seen the movie. This is probably getting very repetitive to a lot of people, and while I was ignoring reviews until I could see the movie I did come to expect the praise to continue through out these weeks after it's theatrical debut. It's not surprising and at this point the movie feels less like an independent gem and more like an over-hyped buzzword... But now, after seeing it, I'm aware of why this increasingly popular film still feels extremely personal to everyone who watches it.
You're aware, I know you are, there's a long dirty history of racism and homophobia in this country. To a lot of people the raise of diversity and inclusion, particularly in independent films, helps numb the truth that's always still lingering in the air when you exit your local cinema. It has started to feel a little better, like we're improving on expanding storytelling to all kinds of people. What has always been lacking is the intersection of racism and homophobia. And what makes Moonlight so important is that it still comes from the perspective of those directly involved and living these problems.
This is tough. I don't know what triggered me a moment ago while writing this but thinking of continuing I feel the urge to cry again. To be completely transparent, I am a crybaby. It surprises me that I only cried five times during this film. When it happened did surprise me though. It snuck up on me. There are moments in this story where things feel fine and with just one or two line exchanges in an instant I was moved to hysterics. I can't remember having a "am I a faggot" talk with my parents but I remember asking my mother why I was different. We've had films, even blockbusters, that allude to these kinds of moments but never have I seen a film so realistic and honest. I promise you, if you have real life experiences connected to this film you're going to want to mentally prepare yourself. Or don't, and soak in the misery and emotion if you can handle it. I'm not going to say I'm good at handling it but the experience is worth sharing a little bit of the main character's misery, in my opinion.
Chiron and Kevin's relationship is so important. I wish I could phrase that better but nothing will do it justice. Listen, the story of these two men is incredibly tragic and real. This comes back to how intersectional LGBTQ and race issues are. There's a lot of colorism behind America's obsession with masculinity. All men feel these pressures but in particular men of color aren't allowed to be weak. Black men can't be soft. This stereotype has been shoved upon them by white people but exists heavily within their own community. All this to say, for a film like Moonlight to come along and put the focus on this is revolutionary, and it's handled so well. It's brilliantly portrayed for those who need a window in and aggressively real for those who already live it. I have to roll my eyes every time I hear people shut down conversations about LGBTQ representation just because of a few new shows on television, and Redmayne and Leto's "contributions". As a person of color I'm not the poster child for this movement. My people started this fight a long time ago but we're still being shut out of our own community by those in it and those that look like us but don't feel like us. It's the most bizarre situation, but our situation is very different from the rest of the queer community. Like I said before about this movie feeling personal to a lot of people, it's a story someone like me really needed, and more importantly people like Chiron and Kevin need this movie right now. It doesn't offer a solution to our problems but it acknowledges us and that alone is a triumph that I can't begin to describe.
It seems so good to see you back again
How long has it been?
It seems like a mighty long time
I'm so glad
You stopped by to say hello to me
Remember that's the way it used to be
Ooh, it seems like a mighty long time
Years after these men have gone different ways the audience is shocked at Chiron's transformation and expect Kevin to react the same way. He doesn't, at first. This is when it's apparent that Kevin wasn't ever meant to be a fleeting moment in Chiron's life, and that he really saw Chiron this whole time. That moment is incredibly touching to me, as small as it may seem to others. Your first same-sex crush can destroy you and I was terrified for them, and so satisfied with how things panned out. It's really the scene on the beach that stole my heart. Seeing these two men allowing themselves to discover someone for the first time both destroyed and healed me.
The cast is the best. Can I just end my sentence there? They're the best. They're the best okay? The jump from teen to adult is the one that stretched my suspension of disbelief the most, as Chiron was completely unrecognizable. And then he hears Kevin's voice for the first time in ten years and the look on his face... I don't know how he did it, but all of a sudden I could recognize that small frightened boy from before all over his face.
WARNING: This cast is gorgeous. No one warned me and y'all need to be warned. Everyone in this cast is beautiful, it's so damn distracting. The school bully is the prettiest bully I have ever seen. They all so pretty. You've been warned.
Trust that the score is great, the cinematography is great. Hearing word of mouth made me excited for Moonlight's award prospects but I was constantly telling people not to expect Academy acknowledgement and aim for it to sweep the Spirit awards and get some noms at the Globes. Now that I've seen it, fuck that, if anyone can possibly ignore this movie they don't deserve a vote in this shit.