Moonlight (2016) – Little Black Submarines

Everyone has a unique experience. Certainly, we have all bullied, suppressed, and isolated. Then, it usually comes from our influence on parents. However, we feel it was only yesterday. In short, there was a line that separates intermediaries between adults and children. Sometimes, we think about how difficult it was to grow in a normal environment. But also, we try to stay standing in a harsh environment. It then had an impact until we became an adult. All of that, sometimes, was so memorable. And in the end, we all grow up. In addition, we also wonder if it was that difficult. But, our story of a lifetime finally answered by Barry Jenkins‘ “Moonlight.”

I know a controversy about this film. Not because of the theme but the people did not accept this film as the winner of the Best Picture at the Academy Awards 2016. Wrong said who the winner was, in the end, “La La Land” walked out. At first, I didn’t understand what this film really wanted to say. To be honest, this film is one of the greatest pieces of cinema for decades. On top of that, this film is so depressing, unsettling, and heartbreaking. Yeah I know, this isn’t about CGI or something. However, this film has complex, surreal, and more human characters. On the other hand, every music, cinematography, symbolism, lighting, score, acting, dialogue are pieces of arts.

“Moonlight” isn’t just an ordinary coming-of-age movie. Emphasized, this film very focused on drama elements. Therefore, it gets monotonous for some people. Clearly, “Moonlight” divided into three chapters of Chiron’s life journey. Those chapters are Little, Chiron, and Black. Next, all of them explore the main character’s childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. As an audience, we see every detail of Chiron’s life from his childhood and how he grew up. He learns a lot to find his true identity and try to survive in a harsh environment. He understands human beings as deeply as possible.

The first chapter, Little, opens with an uncomfortable situation. Alex R. Hibbert as Little is a youngster who tries to run away from his bully friends. He hid into an abandoned apartment. The moment where you don’t know who was them a bit uncomfortable. The camera works pretty well in this scene. Next, he found by Mahershala Ali as Juan. With his partner, Janelle Monáe as Teresa, Little thought they were both his parents. Little actually has a mother, Naomie Harris as Paula. His father gone and there was no place for him to depend again. Paula was Juan’s client. Juan becomes a father figure of Little. From here, Little tells why he hated by his friends as a gay.

The second chapter, Chiron, tells the story of Little being a teenager. Now, we know him as Chiron. This chapter further discusses the situation of Chiron, wonders about sexuality, and his masculinity. Chiron had a tough year. Ashton Sanders as Chiron doesn’t live normally anymore. There is nothing left. He was always with his long kind friend, Jharrel Jerome as Kevin, who always brings happiness, dependency, and comfortability. However, he finally revealed his feelings to his friend on a beach at night. This is what this movie called moonlight. As if the feeling that comes out is like a moon full of bright without anything blocking it.

The third chapter, Black, tells the story of Chiron as a young adult. Trevante Rhodes as Chiron is now an adult. He doesn’t need shelter anymore. He is more independent and behaves appropriately with other black people. For some reason, he felt there was something strange but with strong inner pressure. He later reunited with André Holland as Kevin. They have forgotten their memories again. Finally, Chiron actually feels uncomfortable. He didn’t like himself now anymore where he stopped to look for himself. At the end of the movie, the little Chiron faced a beach at night. It followed by his looking behind the camera. As if he was paying attention to the audience.

“Moonlight” is a coming-of-age story that seeks to break a stereotypical. Most of the films that use the concept of black always influenced by the same format. They sell drugs, listen to hip-hop, and talk like a gangster. This movie tries to override it. There are several scenes that describe their lives like that. However, the culture then bound into the main character’s life. He is different from the others. He overlooked by society. Nobody thinks he’s cool. It has nothing.

This film is pure drama. However, the emotional impressions in its story are not cliché. The storytelling in order is as specific as possible. Everything told in various details. Starting from Chiron’s life from his childhood, adolescence, to his adulthood. I know, “Boyhood” is the same theme. I don’t know what to say, there is no difference. However, there is something missing in the film. While “Moonlight” has a story that is so extraordinary. It’s a stunning art and unsettling story about someone growing up in a harsh environment. Nobody tried to understand him.

Barry Jenkins’ direction such a piece of raw art with stunning James Laxton’s cinematography. This is like a top-level combination which is equivalent to other legend directors. Just put Andrei Tarkovsky with poetic symbolism and Ingmar Bergman with an emotional and intense impression. Finally, you got “Moonlight” with a pretty amazing combination. The acting, especially the three actors who cast as Chiron, is the best. They are all amazingly excellent. The characterization that is so human and has character. Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris are also one of the greatest piece performances. I don’t know what the lack of this film is. It’s just powerful from every character, depicting Miami’s background, choosing colors that are so symbolic, and so stunning.

“Moonlight” is a piece of unsettling yet depressing coming-of-age complex drama. Its complexity then affects the character. It rather makes this film quite heavy. On the other hand, it has memorable dialogues. The impression, of course, is so terrifying. There is a feeling of fear and pity. So your feelings crushed. However, It’s about society. This is a breaking-the-rules movie. It’s about masculinity, blacks stereotypical, sexuality, and self-awareness. “Moonlight” becomes a piece of cinema with a strong impact and inspiration. All the performances from the actors are surreal. They all unpredictably. It’s just a masterfully-crafted. This is a masterpiece of cinema.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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