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Film Review: Moonlight Puts A Spotlight A One Man’s Multiple Layers of Oppression

Moonlight is the new film by Barry Jenkins the questions the layers of oppression that can affect one human being. Not many realize that one person can have their life be made less then their potential or dreams because they fit into multiple boxes of socially outcast. Through the life of Chiron, viewers will see what happens when a young man is desperately poor, black, and gay.
Rare in cinema has a movie made a film viewer feel so protective and invested in the life of its protagonist. We meet Chiron at the ages of 10, 16, and thirty-something, and for the next 110 minutes we see life only according to his eyes. Thus, we feel every wound he is caused and every motivation that turns him from a sweet boy bullied by others to a drug dealer that bullies himself. You may ask how a person can bully their self, but through Chiron you see how continuous rejection from the world can lead a person to join it in diminishing their own being. Hence, Moonlight is an important film that reveals how being considered socially less can turn a person into spiritually less, as well.

There are many elements to Moonlight that will make it one of the most memorable films you will ever see. First the cast is magnificent. Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders,, and Trevante Rhodes were excellent in creating a character scope that felt like a fully fledged human being: flaws, quirks, and glories. Hibbert plays 10 year old Chiron with a meek restraint that crushes as you see his drug-addicted mother, Paula (Naomi Harris), degrade him into nothingness. Ashton Sanders is near perfect as the teenaged Chiron struggles to meet the societal ideas of manliness while discovering his own sexuality.  Meanwhile, Trevante Rhodes places the final nail into the coffin of your heart by showing the spiritual chains of Chiron as a fully closeted homosexual drug-dealing to make money, which  was the only form of work he learned by the only father figure he had: Juan (played heartwarmingly by Marshesal Ali).

What moves me most about this film is that everything was laid out before the audience without ever saying these are the moral lessons I want you to learn. Instead, it is your own morality that will tell you no human being should undergo Chiron’s amount of suffering. Moonlight is a tragic movie, and Chiron is a devastating character whose own capacity to love is consistently shutdown by the hate and malice that even his own mother exudes towards him. Moreover, its picturesque cinematography and soundtrack makes even the lowliest moments of Chiron’s  life feel like a poem offered to the audience. Moonlight truly is one of the best films of 2016, and audiences will cry at watching Chiron’s good heart grow hardened by cruelties that were invalid and unwarranted.

Chiron is a reminder that social oppression has nothing to do with moral character. Bad things do happen to good people, and Barry Jenkins assures to show that by not forcefully preaching or giving flashy portrayals of human sentiment. Instead, he has placed into film one of the most vulnerable, gut-wrenching, and humble tales of a human life you will ever see. Chiron goes through horrible experiences that people have nightmares over like, getting beat up every day at school, going to jail for defending yourself, and hiding who you are as a human being out of fear that it will get you killed. The irony is Chiron isn’t a character from 1898 in a foreign country. He is a Millennial man born and raised in Miami.  The immediacy of his situation is a poignant remembrance that society needs to advance way more then it thinks because human life deserves its chance to live happy and fulfilled.

Moonlight Comes Out In Theatres October 21.