Blerd Film Club:Moonlight


 In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue was a school project from Tarell McCraney. It was a semi-autobiographacial about him growing up as a gay black man. Eventually Barry Jenkins, turned it into a full movie script. In 2016 the film Moonlight was released with a cast of underappreciated and little known actors, at the time. The small cast consisted of Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, Andre Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali.

In the first third of the film we're introduced to Juan, a drug dealer in Miami. Juan finds Chiron hiding from a group of bullies in a crackhouse. Juan lets Chiron stay with him and his wife Teresa. They nickname the boy Little and take him back to his mother in the morning. Paula, his mother is a drug addict who neglects Chiron. Because of this he spends more time with Juan and Teresa. Juan teaches Chiron how to swim and tells him it's important to make his own path and not just follow in his footsteps. Chiron makes one friend named Kevin.

Juan is out late one night checking on his workers and runs into Chiron's mother. He sees Chrinon's mother smoking crack with another of his customers. Juan lashes out and insults her for putting her addiction before her son. She snaps back that he's the one selling her the crack in the first place. She basically passes Chiron off to Juan as his child and claims the reason he keeps getting beat up is because of the way he acts. She then goes home and abuses Chiron.

The next day Chiron stays with Juan and Teresa again.This time he's stoic so Juan teaches him a few drug dealer rules. Never sit with your back to the door, and always watch your surroundings. He admits that he hates his mother and asks them questions about life. He asks if Juan is really a drug dealer. The question that throws everyone for a loop is he asks what the word "faggot" means as its something his mother calls him. Juan tells him it's a word that is used to make gay people feel bad, but there's nothing wrong with being gay. Chiron wants to know if he's gay. Teressa and Juan promise him he'll know when he knows, but he doesn't have to know right now. He admits that he's sold drugs to Paula and Chiron leaves, but their relationship doesn't end.

We move onto the teenage years of Chiron. He spends most of his time dodging the local bully and minor league drug dealer Terrel. When he isn't doing that he spends time with Teresa who has been living alone since Juan died. It's never stated how Juan dies, but it's hinted that it's part of his drug dealing lifestyle. Paula is now a prostitute to support her drug habit. When Teresa gives Chiron money to buy things like food Paula takes it from him.

One night Chiron has a dream where he watches his friend Kevin have sex with a woman in Teresa's back yard. Chiron spends most of the nights wandering the streets away from his home where Paula is having sex for money. One night Kevin visits Chiron on a beach and they smoke a blunt together. Chiron asks why Kevin gave him the nickname Black. They talk about what they want to do in the future. Kevin then kisses Chiron and gives him a handjob.

The next day Terrel and his gang force Kevin to attack Chiron. Kevin hesitates but Chiron gives him the go ahead to attack. Kevin punches him but keeps getting up even when Kevin begs him to stop. Thinking Kevin is going on on him, Terrel's gang stomps on Chiron as Kevin tries to stop them. The school tries to get Chiron to tell them who did it. She does this by berating Chiron and telling him he's not a man. Chiron says she doesn't understand. He tunes her out as she gives him the talk about how he couldn't defend himself. In reality, he didn't want to fight his best and only friend.

Chiron goes home to treat his wounds by submerging his head in ice water. The next day he goes to school as if nothing happens but the closer to class he gets the angrier he seems to be. He walks into class and tosses his backpack down before picking up a chair and attacking Terrel. His gang try to restrain Chiron who tries to break free to continue his assault. Chiron is arrested and Kevin watches blaming himself for it.


We're introduced to adult Chiron now going by Black and living in Atlanta. He wakes up still having nightmares of his mother. Paula is now in a rehab center and getting help for her addiction. She frequently calls for him to come visit her. He gets another call, thinking its his mother he says he'll see her later. It's actually Kevin. Kevin got his number from Teressa, Kevin invites him ti come to Miami again. He apologizes for everything that happened when they were teenagers and Chiron changes the subject. Chiron struggles with the conversation, still having feelings for Kevin. Kevin mentions that the music makes him think about Chiron.

Chiron has a wet dream about Kevin and realizes that he needs to get down there. Black tells his workers he's going to be out of time for a while. He then goes to visit his mother. He tells her that he's still having nightmares. Paula suggests he talk to a counselor. She asks about Teressa and finally apologizes for the way she treated him. She promises that even if he hates her, she still loves him and wants him out of the streets. They make amends and he heads to Miami to see Kevin.

Chrion makes his way to the restaurant where Kevin works. Kevin gets excited and insists he's the one to cook for Chiron. As he closes down the restaurant for the night he tells Chiron all about his life while Chiron avoids talking about his. We learn that Kevin had a child with an ex although they didn't stay together. His life isn't going great but cooking and his child keep him happy.

Chiron finally admits that he's doing the same thing Juan was. Kevin insists that isn't who Chiron is to which Chiron simply responds, "nigga, you don't me." To be fair, Kevin doesn't know what he spent the last decade doing. Chiron just wants to know why Kevin would call if he was going to question him about his life. Kevin plays "Hello Stranger" by Barbara Lewis, a song about lovers reuniting. The two leave and Chiron gives Kevin a ride home. Kevin asks Chiron why he would come see him and if he has a place to stay as they drive through the streets of Miami. They arrive at Kevin's home and he invites Chiron in.

Chiron admits he's a little drunk from the wine he was served earlier and Kevin offers to make him some tea. Kevin again asks who Chiron is. Chiron insists he's being himself. They discuss the past and Chiron admits he tries to not remember it admitting that he rebuilt himself when he got to Atlanta. Kevin admits he just did whatever people told him and never got to be Kevin. Despite that he's glad he finally doesn't have worries. Chiron breaks down and admits Kevin is the only person that's ever been intimate with him. They cry together and the movie fades before we see a shot of young Chiron on the beach. He looks blue in the moonlight.


Moonlight was filmed on a low budget in 25 days and most of the actors never met. None of the actors playing Chiron and Kevin ever met each other during the filing. Naomie Harris filmed all her scenes in three days after spending time with addicts and recovering addicts. Ashton Sanders filmed his in 5 days. Mahershala Ali filmed his scenes on weekends because he was doing other roles in the week. Most of the camera work and editing was done by friends of the Barry Jenkins, Tarell McCraney and producer Adele Romanski.

I could speak for days on some of the different topics touched on in the film. The three biggest are without a doubt homosexuality in the black community, manhood and our personal identities, as well as how they intertwine and lastly how we deal with trauma. Through the first two chapters we see Chrion just being himself meanwhile Kevin constantly does everything to fit in and appear tougher. Meanwhile in the last chapter it flips. Chiron attempts to hide being homosexual by mimicking the toughest man he knew, Juan. Andre Holland defined it well in an interview, there's this idea that black men, straight or gay, we walk this line where we have to be tough, but we can't be too tough because then we're threatening. That leads to people never really being themselves. We watch Juan, Chiron and Kevin all walk that same line on different levels.

I don't usually call movies perfect, but I think Moonlight might be close. There's so many different things people can relate to. It doesn't really matter who you are as a person, there's something in the film that will probably reach out to you.

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Blerd Film Club:Moonlight Blerd Film Club:Moonlight Reviewed by Blerds Online on Friday, March 01, 2019 Rating: 5

2 comments:

  1. I don't watch many movies but I had the opportunity to watch Moonlight. This movie is legit. Great write up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I might have gotten a little misty eyed at a few parts.

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