Moonlight on Black & Blue

DATELINE: Three Faces of Chiron

Art can surprise.  Coming across as a film version of Manchild in the Promised Land, this coming-of-age story called Moonlight deserves its Oscar for Best Picture.

Perhaps the world of Claude Brown in the 1940s is not much different for the character in Barry Jenkins’s story. Chiron, in his three stages of development, is a heart-breaker. The story oozes pathos and finds sensitivity in the cruelest world of the Miami ghetto.

Seldom have we thought characters who age from young child to adult are the same person. It’s a mean feat to take the same young man, subject to bullies, and transform him into a man he should have never become—but who is the same sweet person underneath. They share gestures, glances, and styles, of Chiron.

Trevante, Ashton, and Alex, are Chiron from eldest to youngest. They are the movie’s heart and make the tale something special.

The people he meets and lives with are there in various stages, showing the reversal of fortune. It’s reminiscent of Charles Dickens, when the turn of the screw makes those who mistreated the child, come full circle in regret.

Naomie Harris as Chiron’s mother comes full circle from her youth to middle age. And, Mahershala Ali is the man who rescues young Chiron and explains what Moonlight means to him. He is Blue, and his son is Black. They share their sorrows, but are clearly the same man.

Often, we ridicule the Best Picture because it is often not the best. This time the label is correctly applied. This is a timeless and brilliant piece of film work.  All praise is deserved.