Moonlight (2016): An analysis of Barry Jenikins' 8 time Oscar nominated film

By Aatreyee Dhar

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Moonlight, Movie Still, Barry Jenkins, beach scene, Little

A movie may hint at various perspectives, but, I believe, the approach wherein you can come to feel the intonation offered by a deluge of pathos and melancholic voices through the staggering snapshots is only when you can develop your own understanding and view and see it through both the filmmaker’s and your eyes. This experience is akin to when you get into the skin of Chiron and walk around in his shoes.

Barry Jenkin’s magnum opus reels off the surrealistic beauty in black boys, turning blue in waxing moonlight, weaving into segues of three phases: Little, Chiron and Black. “Little”, as his friends call him, feels ostracized and struggles with inert emotions about his masculinity and manhood as he hides up in a boarded up home stationed in one of the do-rag enclaves. He encounters a friend named Jean who acts as a fatherly figure and teaches him to let go of his fears and stand bolt upright and decide for himself gradually what he is instead of falling prey to what others want of him. 

Moonlight, Movie Still, Barry Jenkins, drowning scene, Little

The second part spins around the adolescent phase where “Chiron” has grown up physically but not yet mentally, still entangled in gender identification labyrinth too difficult to embrace. He is caught in a neighbourhood addled with crack dealers and bullies who fiddle with their usual felonies and crimes of the day. Against all odds, he finds solace in the soft-spoken company of Teresa and the unusual kindness of Jean. Chiron has a moment of ecstasy and bliss when he lays low his boundaries and engages in brief physical intimacy as Kevin works his way up Chiron’s shorts. Chiron’s mother is still alternating between her crack abuse to blur the pain of witnessing her son’s inclination to the unholy queerness and her overbearing indulgence in Chiron’s life. 

“Black” is adult Chiron who has shielded himself with muscular body, gold grills and studded earring. He is now a drug dealer perhaps inspired by his first meeting with the crack dealer of a heroic figure, Jean. He is moved by a call from Kevin as he wakes up to a wet dream and chooses not to give up on his dream of reuniting with his former lover. He races up to meet him embracing his craving desires and passion free of the societal barriers and the limiting restraints.

Moonlight, Movie Still, Barry Jenkins, bruised nose scene

The idea of black boys turning blue seems lyrical. For, there is a chance to discover some levity underneath the bulwark of recriminations and false accusations. “Black” ultimately finds lost love in his decision to evolve in his mental odyssey instead of taking the path down to regression, preferring to mould himself into his avenue of self-realization and taking the high road to self discovery.

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!  

About Author - 

Aatreyee is a movie aficionado, an art connoisseur, a closet writer, an avid reader and a serene geek by choice.

Moonlight Trailer (YouTube)

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