“Moonlight” shines at storytelling

Angel Kim, Team Leader

When I first heard of “Moonlight”, I wasn’t expecting to find myself watching it in theaters- the story was interesting and the early reviews were positive, but it being centered around a gay black man growing up, there isn’t much to relate to. Despite this, I noticed the film garnering more and more attention, and speculation about a possible Oscar nomination, so I decided to see it last weekend, because it wasn’t showing in any local theatres during the first week of its release on Oct. 21.

“Moonlight”, written and directed by Barry Jenkins, was adapted from Tarell McCraney’s semi-autobiographical play, “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue”. Without definite plot elements, it follows the life of Chiron, told in three acts. Each act was titled with the name that Chiron was called for that time: “Little” (Alex R. HIbbert), “Chiron” (Ashton Sanders) and “Black” (Trevante Rhodes). Throughout the film, Chiron faces harassment based on masculinity standards set by his community, but eventually comes to terms with himself and his sexuality. I feel that it really is not in my place to comment on much of the film’s accuracy on character development, but I will discuss its more universal and artistic aspects.

I can say with confidence that “Moonlight” is unlike any 2016 film I’ve seen. Compelling acting, with stand-out Naomie Harris as Paula, Chiron’s drug-addicted mother, paired with a vibrant color palette made it emotional without being over dramatic. Each shot seemed to have a dominant color, such as a diner having red napkin dispensers and red plants outside the window, and Chiron’s living room having a blue couch and blue walls. Perhaps this symbolized a theme in the film, but I appreciated the details.

“Moonlight’s” nuanced storytelling drew viewers in, with each of the acts telling a story of its own, yet being cohesive. Viewers can see Chiron’s character evolving from being the shy kid who was bullied for being different, to being bullied for effeminacy, to becoming a virile and nearly unrecognizable drug dealer after the film’s climax, and then finally truly accepting who he is.

Based on other reviews, this “Moonlight” has been noted as a must-see for those coming to terms with their sexuality. However, viewers who simply enjoy watching movies will also be affected by the message it conveys.

The independent studio behind “Moonlight”, A24, has come a long way since their first film was released in 2013. Already with acclaimed and well-known features such as “Room” and “The Spectacular Now”, one can only look forward to the company’s future.