Days after I saw an advanced screening of Moonlight at Morehouse College, I felt haunted. I felt haunted by nothingness and silence. I tried to exercise this muted demon. I played music loud, I cried until tears fell down onto my ears and made it so I could hear the ocean forming in my earlobes. I asked my mom questions about my family that I had never found myself brave enough to ask before. These things would all suffice for a moment, but the silence was there shortly after like a persistent suitor, or the moon. Oblivion is a patient inevitability in that way.
And this is the type of film that Moonlight is.
It its hardly about what you saw for that hour-and-fifty-one minutes of your life. Instead, Moonlight is about how it echoes, or doesn’t echo, in the moments of your life afterwards. Some of the echoes are children’s laughs. Others are the echoes of eerie winds. However, Moonlight is the type of film that forces you to listen to both the activity and the interludes of silence in your own life.
For those unaware of what Moonlight is about, the film is a coming-to-age tale told in three parts involving a young boy that grows into manhood during the crack epidemic in 1980s Miami. Chiron, played beautifully by three different actors (Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes), is grappling with his own sexuality and queerness while still going through the perils of a rocky home life. Moonlight was written by playwright, Tarell Alvin McCraney and directed by Barry Jenkins. Immersed in this environment, Chiron must navigate these drug-infected waters alongside his crack-addicted mother named Paula (played intensely and delicately by Naomie Harris), a smooth-talking drug dealer named Juan (Mahershala Ali) and his girlfriend, Teresa (Janelle Monae).
Chiron must also figure out himself as a sensitive person in an insensitive and harsh reality. Upon first meeting Juan in Moonlight, Chiron does not speak. In each scene, audiences are privy to the love, the torment and the curiosity that lies within Chiron, but due to his faithfulness to black traditions — he often stays silent.