FIB Film of the Week: Moonlight

Director Barry Jenkins has awakened audiences in his latest film Moonlight. By detailing the life of a man who grows up black and gay during the “drug war” era in Miami, Jenkins crafts a seamless story of despair, suffering, and hope that offers audiences a rare look into a minority lifestyle.

Barry Jenkins Moonlight
Barry Jenkins Moonlight: Credit screenshot from Moonlight


As a young boy, Chiron finds no comfort in his home life as his only guardian is his abusive mother Teresa, played by Janelle Monae. Growing up in a rough neighborhood in Miami, Chiron is also surrounded by violence, and a world of drugs. The only solace Chiron finds is in his companionship with his friend Kevin, who he soon realizes he has sexual feelings for. Throughout a webbing narrative that plays through his teen and adult years Chiron struggles with his homosexuality and identity in an era of drug addiction and mismanaged lives.

Throughout the film, Jenkins masterfully deploys a cinematic experience for audiences by utilizing three actors to play the character of Chiron as he ages. It’s a key element that allows audiences to effortlessly feel the struggle that surrounds not only the African-American community but the LGBT community as well.

Jenkins ability to blend graphic scenes from the hard lifestyle of the drug era in Miami with the sacred scenes of innocent youth also creates a beautiful dichotomy throughout the film. While the film has moments to hit the audience hard, it also does a beautiful job of creating mellowed out delicate moments that evoke strong feeling. In response to his film, Jenkins stated:

“In a perfect world, when people see the film and spend time with these characters, they want to actively find more ways than I can even put into the film to empathize with them, and to have a more nuanced understanding of what it means to be black in America, black and poor in America, black and gay and male in America.”

In a time that marginalizes the lifestyle of African American homosexuality, this film does the ultimate job of bringing the issue to life. Society continually struggles to materialize what needs to be an ongoing movement based on equality, and Jenkins hopes that the film will undoubtedly bring about much needed conversation. In addition to its commentary on social movement, the film is getting plenty of oscar buzz. So we’ll be sure to revisit this film when we recap some of the year’s best. View the Trailer below: