It’s a very tough life growing up in an urban area with crime and bad influences surrounding you. You are supposed to act, think, and do certain things to get by, even if you have any aspirations to actually do something else. If you are different, especially if you are gay, you have to bury those feelings underneath a thick veneer to where nobody can see who you should be, who you really are.
The character of Chiron in “Moonlight” is a very quiet, troubled soul. He knows he’s different, but as a young child, he doesn’t realize who he is yet. He is growing up in urban Miami, where crime and drugs are rampant, and where he is picked on by school bullies and isn’t loved by his mother. One day, he befriends a man, Juan, and later his girlfriend, Teresa, who tell him that he can be whomever he wants. Chiron does have one acquaintance his age, Kevin.
The film examines three stages of his life, when Chrion is 9, then when is a teenager, and finally when he is a man. Chiron has just about every life challenge you can imagine for a 9-year-old boy. His mother is a drug addict buying the junk from Juan himself (much to Juan’s shock.) In the second part, Kevin and Chiron have romantic encounter on a beach. This was a very profound and powerful scene. The love is short lived as the bullies at his school force Kevin to beat Chiron up as a rite of passage. Chiron in turn lashes out at one of those bullies in class and is sent away.
Years later, Chiron gets a phone call late one night from Kevin. He hasn’t heard from him in years. Kevin has tried to get on the right road to having a decent life. Chiron, not so much. But, eventually, they meet back up and it’s left to the audience to wonder if they do, in fact, become lovers.
This is the kind of film I like to see. The writing and direction of Barry Jenkins is very, very well done. You felt for all of these characters. It’s not very common with someone of Chrion’s background to be able to be gay and be accepted. I can understand how he feels. The hurt inside when you can’t find anyone to love and be yourself has to be devastating. I know, I felt that as a teenager myself. So for me, this aspect of his life hit very close to home.
I am quite proud that this movie has already won the Golden Globe award for Best Motion Picture – Drama. I hope that it will win a couple of Academy Awards come next month. These kinds of personal tales are ones that are the core strength of cinema and need to be told, especially in this day and age.