When Moonlight was announced as the true winner of Best Picture, I was pleased--not because I thought Lala Land was bad, or because I had even seen Moonlight (I didn’t and I hadn’t)--but because something told me that Moonlight deserved the world’s attention. I finally watched Moonlight tonight with my friends and my feeling from Oscar night was affirmed. I left the theater feeling contented.
I had expected to feel sad, but I was satisfied that the characters of this film, apart from one nasty character, were portrayed with love, respect, and understanding. Watching them on screen felt less like examining them and more like gently cradling them in my mind until I felt I’d accomplished a fairly deep understanding of who they were.
The film is an account of the life of Chiron, an introverted boy who is bullied by some and rescued by others. The positive people and negative people seemed easy to distinguish until his friend Kevin blurred the line between friend and foe. The original script was a play in three acts. The movie preserved that style of being split into three chapters, one portraying Chiron as a child, one as a teenager, and one as an adult. The continuum of Chiron’s life rolled out smoothly with the actors playing both Chiron and Kevin looking like the same people at different ages.
The music in this film played an important role, setting the mood for scenes. One of my favorite songs, “Cocoroco Paloma” by Caetano Veloso, played and although I associate that song with the film “Talk to Her,” I think it also worked well in this film. The most beautiful scene is when Kevin plays a song for Chiron on the juke box at his work. The two characters aren’t able to express their feelings, even as adults, so music has to do the job. I loved how Chiron still seemed like an awkward and vulnerable teenager toward the end of the film, the gold fronts on his teeth looking like braces in an adolescent mouth.
This is one of the most beautiful films and caring accounts of a life I’ve ever seen.