I’ve been putting Moonlight on the back burner for a while. I knew I’d have to watch it eventually because it’s gotten a ton of attention from critics and it won the Golden Globe for best picture in a drama. Despite all the good reviews and success its had, I really couldn’t motivate myself to watch it. I mean, watch that trailer. Am I wrong or is that one of the worst trailers ever? Nothing grabbed my attention. Instead it did the opposite and pushed me away because it presents itself to be ultra-artsy. This failed to grab my attention. But I’ll give it credit for having one hell of a soundtrack- loved the music. The movie poster didn’t help give context to the movie either, at least not in an obvious way. Now that I’ve seen the movie it all makes sense. But between the poster and trailer I had no idea that this was the story of one guy growing up. Kind of a fail on the marketing side of things.
SPOILERS: The movie itself was actually really well done. I can see why it’s gotten a lot of attention. Moonlight is everything Boyhood should have been which might be my most “critic” statement ever. I hated Boyhood. It was just an average kid’s life caught on film and edited into a movie. If it didn’t have the whole “they shot this movie for 12 years with the same actor aging for the role” it would have been laughably uninteresting. Moonlight takes that idea of following a boy’s life but does something crazy: it adds a plot. Let me break down each movie in simple terms to show the contrast….
Moonlight: A boy is growing up with a drug addict mother and no father. His mother’s drug dealer unknowingly becomes his father figure. Drug dealer is ashamed he can’t be a better role model because of the drug dealing stuff. Has a hot wife, Theresa, who becomes mother figure. Boy gets aggressively picked on at school all the time. Boy splits time living at home and living at drug dealer father figure’s house although he’s mysteriously absent… jail? Theresa is there so its cool. Boy realizes he is gay, slightly ashamed. Boy gets hand job from classmate on the beach. Same classmate forced to beat the shit out of boy by bullies. Boy gets face fucked up. Boy doesn’t press charges, instead beats/kills? bully with chair in class. Boy goes to jail. Becomes man. Gets super muscles. Makes a living selling drugs in Atlanta, visits mom in rehab. Still gay but only for that one guy. Goes back to Miami to reunite and finally be himself.
Boyhood: A boy grows up with divorced parents. His dad has a cool car. His dad remarries, has a family, sells the cool car. Boy is upset he wasn’t given the cool car. Boy goes to college. Mom cries. End.
See? one sucks and the other doesn’t.
Moonlight is getting all of its attention because of the screenplay. It’s not your average story. A gay black kid with a hard drug filled life??? Of course that story gets attention. But its deserving because the story is great. Everything else is meh. Mahershala Ali is up for best supporting actor, which is odd to me. Mahershala did a great job but his role was TINY. I kept waiting for him to come back but it never happened.
Yup. Thats the face of a man getting told he’s been nominated for 15 minutes of acting.
Overall I thought Moonlight was ok. The story was great but it felt like the director was forcing it to be more artistic than it should have been. He didn’t need to try so hard to sell the audience on important moments, how hard the Chiron’s life was, or the fact that he was confused about who he really was. Something I wish the director/writer spent more time on was the classroom scene where Chiron absolutely MURDERED the bully with a chair.
I say murdered as an exaggeration…but Chiron went to jail for this. We know nothing about what happened after because it fast forwarded to the adult version of Chiron being a drug dealer. Did he actually murder the guy? How long did he go to jail? How could this one fight change the fabric of his life so drastically? It felt like the weakest point in the story for me. I had a ton of questions that came from this scene but the writer decided to be lazy and just didn’t get into it. Frustrating to say the least. And if he did go to jail, which is likely, then I call complete bullshit on one of the last lines of the movie when he said “you’re the only man who’s ever touched me”… I think a gay guy in jail has a very specific target that would be explored more than once or twice. Just saying.
I’m not going to side with the majority of the critics on this one. I think it was good, not great. A great story can’t be a crutch that carries a movie like it did in Moonlight. That being said, it’s still something I’d consider worthwhile if you’re looking for a very real movie. I give it an 83% critic rating, but only 2.4 popcorns. It just wasn’t something I’d find enjoyable to watch on a casual weeknight, which is a major factor in determining popcorns of course.