Moonlight, and Why Representation Matters


In my 17 years, I’ve seen about 800 movies. That being said, Moonlight is one of the most significant and touching works I’ve ever seen. In my opinion, and many others, Moonlight is the best film of 2016. This is one of those few movies that are truly an experience, a beautifully sculpted universe to be completely immersed in for two hours.

Set in Miami, we follow the life of Chiron in three stages, his childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, as he tries to discover himself and his place in the world, all the while grappling with bullying, his neglectful mother, and his sexuality.

I try to avoid being too personal when reviewing a film, but Moonlight is too personal of a movie for that. I was crying within the first half hour, I continued to cry throughout the whole film, and I cried on the car ride home. Seeing a fellow LGBTQ person represented so truthfully and beautifully meant so much to me. When was the last time you saw a meaningful, realistic, non-stereotypical portrayal of a gay man in a popular movie? Brokeback Mountain (2005) is the best example, but that premiered over 10 years ago, and faced immense backlash. And when was the last time you saw a genuine portrayal of a black gay man? And not the ‘sassy gay best friend’ that’s only included for comic relief and style advice, a character with motivations and growth? Ever? That’s what makes this movie important.

Life imitates art, and as humans we subconsciously seek acceptance from the media we consume. When you see a character just like you, whether in looks, personality, or situation, and that character is thriving and happy in their life, you are reassured of your place in the world. And in a society where we learn to doubt our every move, that reassurance is completely necessary. There is someone in the world who walked into the theater to see this move, and ended up seeing something they’ve never gotten to see before. Themselves.

Although this is only director Barry Jenkins’ sophomore feature film, he has cultivated a stunning ambiance and visual style unlike any other. The vivid, dreamy color scheme complements the drastic realism of the films content. Need another reason to see Moonlight? The film has already won 30 awards ranging from best feature to best screenplay, and received 36 nominations, and award season doesn’t even peak until next year.

Moonlight is magical. There is no film that can compare to it. It’s a lesson in empathy and beauty, storytelling and life. This is the kind of film every movie should aspire to be. So please watch it, I swear you won’t regret it.