Mahershala Ali in Moonlight

I have no idea what to say about Moonlight.

In a way, it almost seems wrong to try and vocalize a movie that steers so far away from any words.

Should I talk about how effortlessly it feels like writer/director Barry Jenkins paints this image of societal restriction? How it seems like we are constantly wanting to move forward with our own basic desires, but are tortured by what others dictate as appropriate and steer away?

Should I talk about how astounding each performance by each different actor playing Chiron is? How the child (Alex Hibbert) plays him so innocently and curious, like a blank pallet looking to find some shapes and colors to add to it? Or how the teen version (Ashton Sanders) is so vulnerable, that we are able to see our own adolescent insecurities in this person that also seems so distant from us? Because I somewhat resent the notion that we see ourselves in Chiron. Chiron is himself and singular in Moonlight.

Or how the adult version (Trevante Rhodes) encapsulates both versions and seems to be this stoic figure? How it is difficult to put into words how emotionally powerful the final five minutes of this movie is because so much is said with so few words?

Should I talk about how important the ocean is? How the ocean signifies the massive gap between these characters? How it plays such a crucial role in Chiron’s development from the scene where he learns to swim alongside Juan (Mahershala Ali) to the scene when he notices the waves as he makes his way to Kevin’s house to lead into our final sequence.

Or in the scene where Chiron and Kevin engage in this sexual ecstasy that seems indescribable for either character, but also defines their paths moving forward. How a subtle, small moment can mean the world to people.

Should I talk about how warm this movie feels? How it feels so dreamy and ethereal, but is also able to force you into embracing the realities of life? How these 90 minutes change you not only because of the power of cinematic images that stick in your brain like glue, but also because cinema has the power to open your eyes? To see what others see. To understand someone who isn’t anything like you and faces challenges so far from your own.

Please tell me what to talk about because I have no idea. Moonlight is tough to define through words, and like I said, I don’t think it should be. Those images burn into your mind and burrow holes, leaving an impression of magic and beauty, reality and pain, and memory and majesty.

You left me speechless, Moonlight. And now I’m not sure what to do.


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