In case you haven’t been paying attention, distribution company A24 has slowly been taking over since 2013 and has consistently put out some of each year’s greatest films (Spring Breakers, Under The Skin, Ex Machina, Amy, The End of The Tour, Green Room just to name a small handful) but that’s all they’ve done, is just distribute. Until Moonlight, which is the first film they’ve produced (with help from Brad Pitt’s Plan B). After Moonlight, A24 is showing that they are one of the most important companies to look out for.
Moonlight is director Barry Jenkins sophomore film and in it, we follow one character at three different moments of his life, and each moment (or chapter) he goes by a different name, Little (as a child), Chiron (as a teenager) and Black (as an adult). And we follow him as he grows up just attempting to do what most people do, try and figure out who he is. Along the way, he finds people who shape him who he’ll eventually become, someone who still is unsure of himself.
At his youngest, Little is being teased by his classmates and being called “soft.” After running from them, he encounters a drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali) who helps raise him along with Teresa (Janelle Monáe) and in these moments, we see that Juan just means well. He doesn’t want to see just another boy out on the streets. Meanwhile, Little’s mother Paula (Naomie Harris) is slowly getting addicted to drugs. And the moment that little puts the two together is utterly heartbreaking, even more so considering that just a bit before he had asked his surrogate parents how would he know if he was gay, to which they lovingly reply “You’ll know, but you don’t need to know right now.” These little moments make the film, and they so perfectly capture real life that I can’t forget them.
In the second chapter, Chiron is sitting on the beach and is joined by Kevin and he finds a brief moment of happiness when he learns that he isn’t the only who cries, and it’s a scene that keeps playing over and over in my head.
I could go on and on about the beauty of the film (visually, and in a narrative sense) and about the pain that can be seen within it, but I don’t want to spoil any more than I sadly already have.
The film is about trying to figure yourself out, for you and your own only. We get to see Chiron go through multiple aliases to try and find out for himself.
Moonlight is miraculous. A film that has not left my mind, and it sits in there with the film reel constantly replaying the same moments that will be in there until I see it again, and again.