Black Boys Look Blue: “Moonlight” Review


Last year, the discussions were minimal about Moonlight, a film directed by Barry Jenkins, but once the Oscars came around with the Steve Harvey edition of mixing La La Land as Best Motion Picture, everyone was talking about it. This prompted me to watch the movie for myself one Saturday night. I gathered my best snacks and snuggled into the couch, and the outcome was beautiful.


The best part about this movie is when it was being advertised, the trailers pulled you in but did not give you the whole plot of the movie like most trailers. The cinematography of the trailer itself was a glimpse of how the whole film would pronounce itself. Each grain of light, color, sound, and movement had a purpose.


The movie starts with Juan, the neighborhood drug dealer, checking up on his mentee. From the start, he reveals his caring, fatherly personality where he knows what's going on in the mentee's life. As he's walking away to his car, he sees a small child being chased by his bullies into an abandoned house. Juan eventually finds Chiron, scared and alone in the house, and they drive to his home where he meets Juan's wife Teresa. This becomes Chiron's oasis and second home away from his abusive mother, classmates, and the world. Juan gives him a place to stay, food, swim lessons, and life lessons.

Juan played by Mahershala Ali


The scene that resonated with me was when Juan and Chiron are sitting out on the beach and Juan is discussing his childhood living as a Cuban and then moving to Miami. As a child, he would always be moving and playing outside. An old woman in the neighborhood pulled him aside and said, "Running around, catching a lot of light - In Moonlight, black boys look blue. You're blue... That's what I'm gonna call you: 'Blue'." Juan said to Chiron, “At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you're going to be.” (Moonlight, 2016). Juan was one of the only people in his life that was not judging him and wanted him to choose the path he wanted to go into.


This story is so simple yet such a unique coming-of-age story of a young, poor child who, because of the hardships of life, is trying to understand who he wants to love and who he will be when he grows up to become “Black." The final sequence of the film, Chiron is now named as “Black,” which goes with his hard exterior that he is trying to present to the world. As you watch, you see an eerie resemblance to Juan. Throughout the film and at the end of the movie, you have so many questions because this movie was more about body language and the unknown than the actors speaking about what they were feeling.



                                                                                                                          Chiron as “Black” played by Trevonte Rhodes


The reason why this masterpiece has touched so many people comes down to representation and a struggle of knowing your identity. Black people in most films are depicted as a one-dimensional stereotype, either a gangster or a slave. There are not many real representations that allow the character to live through and defy the norm. The audience emerges into this world of how it was like growing up in the '80s Miami crack epidemic; a glimpse of a young boy fighting to love himself and his mom - a glimpse of blackness in a different reality. An all-black cast was allowed to show humanity and emotions that is not displayed on screen most of the time. To have a platform of representation - to tell a poignant story that can relate to anyone - that's why this movie deserved the Academy Award and recognition.


                                                                                                                                     Chiron’s Mother played by Naomie Harris