MOONLIGHT — 2017
A fascinating and surprising film about being black in the USA today. The story of a black boy starts in early middle school through to adulthood. He has a family environment that does not help him a lot since he has no father and his mother is practicing home prostitution which kicks the boy out when she has some guest. She adds some drugs on top of it. At school he is ostracized and maybe even bullied if not victimized as being different though he does not know how.
In middle school he has a contact with another boy, one night on the beach, very flimsy and light. But that contact is strong for him, like a compensation for all the suffering. A few years later, in high school or so his friend is forced to beat him up in the schoolyard to prove he is not a “fag”. Chiron takes it hard and has his vengeance on the following day in class. That will have him arrested. We then jump to adulthood.
Chiron is living a very solitary life, though we do not really know what he is doing. Probably some drug dealing. One night he is called by his friend from school who tells him he is a chef and has a restaurant. He invites him over but everything stays vague. Later on after a visit to his mother who is institutionalized in a way or other he drives to his school friend’s restaurant. Communication is difficult.
But little by little, from chef’s special to special record he goes to his friend’s place to spend the night and some communication comes when he finally tells his friend that since the episode on the beach there has been nothing at all, total abstinence. The door to some emotional contact opens up then.
For black people it is difficult to be gay because of the family structure of their childhood and teenage. Strong opposition exists among black males against anything gay. It is an easy reason to have violence and to assert one’s virility by beating up others. Bullying is also an essential force for some black boys to keep control of everything and everyone, knowing that none of their victims will press charges, nor their parents.
The film is delicate in how it shows the frustration, the desires, the suffering of this Chiron and yet his capability to remain resilient and to negotiate some way out of the trap in which he is. It is this nice reserve and close empathy that makes this film kind of attractive and appealing.
It is neither a manifesto about gay blacks or gayness in black society. It is a very sensitive story that remains entirely subdued, humble.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU