Moonlight (Barry Jenkins/Plan B Entertainment-2016)


Moonlight is a grand, large cinematic statement to modern social politics and how people address sexuality, personality and race. The unique story of a poverty stricken young black male drug dealer who is coming of age and gay is not a tale frequently told in cinema. As the world becomes smaller through the internet, travel, social media and politics exploring cultural and sexual identity is extremely interesting to explore through film. Moonlight freely tackles black male homosexuality in all forms from race, location, financial and social circumstance. Over all it is an intelligent look at identity from personal self truth to society’s perception. 

Its a film adaptation of a play ‘In the Moonlight Black boys look blue’ by Tarell Avin McCraney. A young black man in Miami searches for self identity both sexually and personality wise in the face of a dysfunctional unstable family. The film follows his journey from young naive and sweet boy male adulthood grasping with great social hurdles. This is brought together through memory, flashbacks, bad decisions and people who delay him finding peace with who he is.

Using different actors ‘Juan’ main character is represented through different stages in his life but portraying the same persona and soul. He is a man with a haunted past from childhood, family and eventually great tragedy. While he means well to better himself through faith/religion but also selling drugs for financial stability. What Barry Jenkins does here is fresh, forward and magnetic. Both with over all tone, content of social themes and epic use of cinematography while depicting moments of real life.

Naomie Harris is unrecognizable as a drug addict and mother, making Juan’s path to self destruction through adolescence to adulthood believable. Marhershala Ali, Trevente Rhodes and Ashton Sanders all equally approach the lead role of Juan with great respect at different ages and periods of his life.

Barry Jenkins has created an important piece of socially conscious cinema. The world is now finally approaching moving attitudes towards better understanding of the LGBT community. The film also draws new attention to the role male masculinity Black culture and the combination of being gay for an individual young man. Intuitive, insightful and emotionally gripping ‘Moonlight’ is a film which demands respect through its honest portrait of a natural modern human story never told.

Von Von Lamunu


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