Black Boys Look Blue

Moonlight

Director: Barry Jenkins

Cast: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes, Janelle Monae, Andre Holland, Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders

Director Barry Jenkins breaks new visual ground in his evocative film Moonlight based upon the unproduced play “In the Moonlight Black Boys look Blue” written by Tarell Alvin McCraney.

Premiering at the Telluride film festival in Colorado, Moonlight has attracted huge critical acclaim and awards buzz anchored by two superb performances by Mahershala Ali, last scene in the brilliant series House of Cards, as a African-American Cuban drug dealer Juan and British actress Naomie Harris (Skyfall) in a breath taking role as the crack addicted mother Paula.

Moonlight deconstructs masculinity, sexuality and race in an incisive portrayal of one man’s growth from childhood into adulthood. Set in a poverty stricken Miami neighbourhood, Chiron played in three life stages by Alex Hibbert as a young boy nicknamed Little, Ashton Sanders as a teenager named Chiron and Trevante Rhodes as a muscle bound young man nicknamed Black.

Throughout this study of maturity and evolving masculinity, Chiron has to contend with his drug addicted mother Paula, who incidentally is being supplied crack cocaine by Juan who initially takes Little under his wing as a foster father and teaches him to swim in one of the film’s most effective scenes. The ethical conflict of these two parental figures adds to Chiron’s inability to express his emotions except to ask direct questions like: What is a faggot?

Moonlight is a stunning film, a visual masterpiece superbly directed by Barry Jenkins which gets under the viewers skin and inhabits their perceptions, changing every misconception there is about socially constructed identities – what it means to be black, what it means to be an addict and what it means to be gay.

Chiron’s sexual awakening on a moonlit beach in Miami as he kisses school friend Kevin played by Andre Holland sets the stage for a provocative and important film.

Moonlight is sure to be discussed and analyzed in terms of visual identity and perception but more poignantly it’s a superb portrayal of one man’s emotional journey from bullied child and teenager to a muscle bound man who manages to escape the confines of his conflicted childhood and reconcile with his real identity and find love in the process. The scene between Chiron and a much older Paula is truly phenomenal.

Moonlight is highly recommended viewing, a visually impressive film already generating critical acclaim and incisive film analysis.

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