Moonlight (2016)


Cast includes: Mahershala Ali (House of Cards), Janelle Monáe (Friends with Benefits), Naomie Harris (Skyfall), Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders (Straight Outta Compton), Trevante Rhodes (Westworld), André Holland (Selma)
Weiter/Director: Barry Jenkins (Medicine for Melancholy)
Genre: Drama (116 minutes)

Huffington Post

“Hey man. I don’t mean no disrespect. Do a little something for me.” But Azu is unmoved. “Business is good,” he tells Juan. “Thanks for the opportunity.” Juan runs a tight operation here on the streets of Miami, and his dealers know what’s expected of them. We see a different side of Juan when he rescues 9-year-old Chiron (aka Little). “What’s you doing in here, little man?” No answer from Chiron. “We cool.” Juan takes the boy for a meal... “You not gonna tell me what your name is? I gotta get you home, little man.” Obviously, Chiron doesn’t want to go home, so Juan takes the boy to his girlfriend’s house. “My girl’s gonna make you talk,” says Juan. And Teresa does indeed finds out the boy’s name and where he lives. The next morning, Chiron’s mother, Paula, rebukes Juan and scolds the boy… “You gots to come home when you meant to come home.”

“Why you always letting them pick on you?” asks Chiron’s friend Kevin. “I ain’t soft,” says Chiron. But the other boys make sport of picking on him, nicknaming him “Little”… going to school has become almost intolerable. Chiron still seeks out the kindness of Juan, who lets him ride along in his baby blue Impala, teaches him how to swim, and brings him to Teresa’s house for dinner and the occasional sleep over. Chiron never knows what he’ll find at home. His mother has a volatile temper, especially when she’s “entertaining” men. “You gonna raise my son now?” Paula yells at Juan. “You gonna keep selling me rocks? You gonna tell him why the other boys kick his ass?” Paula is far from being a good mother, but Juan may not be such a good friend either. “What’s a faggot?” Chiron asks Juan. It’s Teresa who answers… “A word people use to make gay people feel bad.”

Moonlight is a beautiful and haunting film that follows Chiron through 3 stages of his life… Little, Chiron and Black. On the surface, Black doesn’t have much in common with Little or Chiron… but under the surface, Black is a product of his early years growing up with challenges at home and on the streets. Each experience leaves an imprint on the man he will become. While much of the content is difficult, the visual appeal makes the film engaging. The three actors who play Chiron were wonderfully cast and blend together almost seamlessly in their looks and mannerisms. Much of the story develops with few words, and the expressiveness of the actors often takes the place of dialog. “Does Mamma do drugs?” Little asks. Juan knows she does. “Do you sell drugs?” Juan wishes he could find a way to lie to the boy because it’s not something he’s proud of. But he’s a product of his early childhood, too, and selling drugs is how he moved beyond it. In a rare moment of sharing, Juan tells Little, “You gotta decide for yourself who you gonna be.”


popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

Three-part story of a young black man growing up in a rough Miami neighborhood

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R (Language, Violence, Sexual Content, Crime, Drugs)
Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Mainstream Limited Release 
Mood: Sober  
Tempo: In No Hurry
Visual Style: Nicely Varnished Realism
Nutshell: Black man childhood to adulthood struggles
Language: True to life 
Social Significance: Thought Provoking

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