If Barry Jenkins' Oscar-winning film, Moonlight, were a meal, it would fall into the category of the type that "sticks to your ribs". It's not Chilean Sea Bass drizzled with a butter sauce, complemented with freakishly skinny carrots that remind you of the Grinch's fingers and the obligatory sprigs of parsley on a bone china plate. It's more like a plate of tender roast beef and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy with a side of string beans. It sticks with you.
I didn't catch Moonlight while it was in theaters. At the time, getting to the movies was something that I just couldn't seem to fit into my schedule. So, I kept a reminder on my phone, set it for bi-weekly alerts, "Moonlight on iTunes". Finally, it was available for purchase. I bought and watched. This was only 2 days prior to the infamous Oscar flub in which the movie walked out victorious.
I watched once and I thought about it all day after viewing. Aretha Franklin's "One Step Ahead" replayed over and over in my head. Scenes from the movie flashed in my mind. I had to watch again. The very next night was my second viewing. With that, my suggestion to family and friends became fervent. Every conversation, "Oh my God! Have you seen Moonlight?!.. You have to see it!" "Rent Moonlight, or come over and watch it!" Never one for company, I was legit handing out invitations. I wanted everyone to see this movie! Even when I couldn't quite put my finger on what was so intriguing about it.
And then the Oscars came and the picture earned an award for Best Picture of the Year! And I'm all like, "I knew it!" Some may not agree, put this picture is too good! This is a picture that opens with the words "Every nigga is a star!" In the hood. An entire black cast. The story of a young boy (Chiron) growing up with a single mother that is addicted to crack, the man (Juan) that provided him some sort of guidance killed by the time he reaches his late teen years... A gay black boy growing up in the projects. Not fitting in with the norm in his environment. A story of reinvention. A story that reminds us all that underneath it all, "You are who you are". Period.
Moonlight is so relatable. And that is what gives it this adhesive property. It strikes a chord with people from all backgrounds. The Moonlight-lovers aren't all gay black males from the hood that faced Chiron's exact obstacles, but many can relate to family drama and shame, being the target of a bully and/or not wanting to be themselves at some point in life.
How many people have heard it said about them, or maybe they have said it about someone else, "He/she wasn't like that in high school."? Just as Kevin pointed out with Chiron's change from a slim, meek kid that was bullied at school as well as at home to a grown chiseled man wearing du-rags and gold grills, chains and watches. Juan was probably the epitome of what a man is to young Chiron. Juan got respect unlike the young Chiron and when he got older, as Juan once told him, he had to figure out who he wanted to be and that's what he chose.
We all choose, whether we realize it or not. As we go through life we adapt to our environment as well as adopt traits and characteristics that we find favorable. Especially as kids. By the time we are adults, we've blossomed into this being that is a result of all of that. And as we age there comes a time that we realize we have to find our true happiness regardless of what society deems acceptable or cool.
That's what Moonlight feeds you.
I've watched it a total of four times now in less than a week. If you have not yet seen it, click the link to purchase or rent from iTunes: MOONLIGHT