Chiron grows into tough manhood. He's a muscular man who knows the mean streets and can survive on them. He has power. This is not the Hollywood stereotype of the black gay male. We will see how the dysfunction of Chiron's early home life with his troubled single mother coupled with his rough days as a schoolboy have made him the young man he is -- and how that could change.
The dinner table scene in which the sad, loner schoolboy asks his father figure what a faggot is will break your heart with its poignancy, its painful truth. That is a memorable scene, beautifully written and performed. Young Chiron really doesn't have a vocabulary to express his loneliness, to express how unconnected he feels to the world around him. I remember that feeling. Mahershala Ali is exceptional in this simple yet complicated scene. Here's a clip in which his character, Juan, encounters Chiron's mother for the first time.
I really started paying more attention to Mr. Ali when I saw him as a regular on HOUSE OF CARDS with Kevin Spacey. He was the best thing about FREE STATE OF JONES starring Matthew McConaughey earlier this year. Ali as Moses in that Civil War drama is the film's highlight. Singer Janelle Monae will have to balance film work with her music career. She's got the right stuff for film acting and she's very good in this as the girlfriend to Chiron's caring but imperfect father figure. The whole cast of MOONLIGHT is good -- especially the three actors who played Chiron in the three stages of his life that we experience. Here's a trailer.
MOONLIGHT shows how independent films make bold steps to bring in diversity and fresh stories, stories that Hollywood would be foolish to ignore. This touching tale of self-discovery deserves Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Director.
Note to actors: Notice how actor Trevante Rhodes as adult Chiron eats when he goes to the diner. Look at how he holds his fork. That is an excellent, accurate detail for a young man who's traveled the life road that character has in the last few years. That is exactly how Jamie Foxx should have held his fork in DJANGO UNCHAINED.