Moonlight ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Wait what's this? No race baiting, no white guilt trips with scenes of white people looking down on our downtrodden homosexual African-American hero. It doesn't blame anyone, it just documented the protagonists tragic life and showed a lot of whats wrong with the breakdown of the black family and the black community, and the far reaching consequences of ones impulsive actions rather than playing the blame game. It's both amazing and refreshing in what has become all too common during Oscar bait season.

The film shows three different stages in the life of a young man living in Miami. As a child, Chiron is bullied as he begins to develop an understanding of his sexuality as he also deals with his drug-addicted mother. In his teenage years, Chiron has his first and only relation with his best friend Kevin on the beach, and is later sent to juvenile detention after assaulting one of his tormentors. As an adult, Chiron becomes a drug dealer, but eventually reconciles with his mother, and later reunites with Kevin.

What makes this movie great is its overall realism and attention to detail combined with its unusual setting. It gives the viewer a look into poor inner-city black lives, and does it better than most every other movie. It lets you see a different world through Chiron's perspective.

Even if you don't relate to the main character's sexuality you can at least relate with his isolation and his terrible upbringing causing him to become an introverted mess who cant articulate his feelings for anyone. I also liked how it wasn't overly sentimental and only used music cues when they were necessary.

It's also worth mentioning the strong performances from the supporting cast. Singer-songwriter Janelle Monáe surprised me with a noteworthy performance in what is her film debut performance, excluding voice work she did for the animated feature Rio 2. Naomie Harris completely inhabits her part, creating an intense and believable performance. But the most outstanding is Mahershala Ali. While he's only in the first act he still leaves a lasting effect throughout the film. The performance in climax and conclusion of the first act hits hard with great emotion impact.

The main focus of the film is the main character's story arc. It's subtle and beautifully unfolds over time. It wasn't just the average "gay man finds himself after being bullied" gimmick.

He started out confused and lonely as a kid who was looking for a functioning family and father figure, even if he didn't know it yet. While not even understanding his own sexuality. He was bullied not only for his sexuality but because of his situation in life. Kevin was a good contrast to this because he was accepted by others because he learned how to deal with people messing with him and learned to be himself around others. Chiron couldn't do this because he was trapped in the isolation created by his environment.

Throughout his teenage years he developed a link with Kevin because Kevin was the only one who understood him and opened up to him. Kevin also had didn't know how to deal with his true self and the social pressures placed on him. Chiron finally snaps from being bullied - one of the only people he ever trusted attacking him - clams up even more and uses violence as a way to stop people making him feel like horrible for who he is.

In the last section Chiron finally learns to forgive his mother and understands she was also a victim of her surroundings as he was. You also get to see the consequence of the damage that was done to him throughout his childhood and teenage years. He's become completely closed to others and obviously is still introverted and ashamed of who he is. He now uses physical stature and his lifestyle to stop people from hurting him emotionally and physically. The ending is emotional because its just Chiron being able to open up after going throughout the whole film not even knowing how to articulate his feelings with other people. When he admits he's never been with another guy since you get an idea of how ashamed and emotionally damaged he really is and how trapped he felt not being able to talk to anyone. Chiron obviously really cares about Kevin and finally is able to verbalize it and gets a small glimpse of happiness with him.

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