Moonlight ★★★★★

I travelled an hour and a half to see Moonlight, since it is only playing at two cinemas in my state. I sat in a boutique theatre at 11.40am on a Friday with about fifteen other white Australians; most of them over 65 years of age, all of them upper middle class. In that tiny space, their reactions were almost comically apparent. The old man behind me cleared his throat uncomfortably through out the scene on the beach. For some reason, the entire cinema thought it was funny that Chiron brushed his hair before going into the diner? One guy laughed at Juan's car every time it was on screen for no apparent reason.

Despite all of this, I'm fairly sure I've never been more completely engaged in a film in my life. The way the score skittered anxiously overtop all that ugly beautiful imagery, how the sea and the sky anchored Chiron to himself, the heat and fluorescent light of Miami, the grime of a home uncared for, the blue blue blue in every shot contrasted startlingly by dream-Kevin, in his haze of smoke.

It doesn't particularly matter what Moonlight meant to me, since I'm not black, poor or a gay male and I don't have an abusive parent. What I do think was vitally important though, for everyone that privileged little bubble of a cinema, was understanding the kind of pain and uncertainty and deeply lodged grief that comes with being ostracised. That kind of self-hatred is very acute, and movies like Moonlight remind us that it's not enough to dismiss school-yard homophobia as a nasty phase, or those involved in drug crime as greedy and cruel, or the crippling effects of anti-blackness as a thing of the past.

I may be wrong, but I think I was probably the only queer person in that screening. When the movie was over I made my way out of the cinema lobby quickly. It was Chiron's need to hide himself - the careful blankness of his face, so motivated by fear - that made me feel I had shared something far too intimate with the people around me and, a little ironically, I couldn't meet their eyes.

tessaclare liked these reviews