People Call Me Little
Hello there and welcome to another entry to the Diary of an Angry Film Nerd. Hope everyone is doing well, especially since today I’m going to be talking about a pretty serious subject. I was going to start this edition with an apology for any offense that I might cause by my opinions about the next film I am reviewing, but then I thought…this is my opinion and I shouldn’t have to apologize for it since that seems to be the trend right now. This issue is going to cover the recent Oscar winner for Best Picture, Moonlight.
Moonlight is a film that chronicles the life of Chiron, who is played by three different actors (Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, and Alex Hibbert) representing different ages. Chiron is an African-American male, son of a drug addicted mother (Naomie Harris), and victim to his Liberty City (a low income section of Miami) surroundings. Chiron must come to terms with his environment, no real father figure, and more importantly his sexuality.
I am highly indifferent when it comes to this film because my opinion is so split that I have arguments with myself about how I really feel about this film. Let me first say that my negative opinions of this film has NOTHING to do with Chiron’s ethnicity nor his sexuality…just getting that out of the way right now. I just hate being ridiculed for having a negative opinion about film that just happens to be about race or sexuality when it could just be that I didn’t like how it was represented in a movie. Sorry I’m getting back to the point of this.
Writer/director Barry Jenkins masterfully presents this film with the way he filmed it. There are a lot of great shots of Chiron alone that told a lot of the story you can’t really explain with dialogue. There are also a few camera tricks that Jenkins infuses to the story that were very clever. For example, there is a scene where Chiron is waiting for a train and he is the only thing in the frame that is in focus, indicating that Chiron believes that he is the only one in the world at that moment. Thought that was really impressive.
This is where I become indifferent, so please hang with me. I enjoyed the performances of Harris and Oscar winner Mahershala Ali, who plays a role model for young Chiron. However, I didn’t really think they were award winning performances. Harris plays the same drug addicted figure that a lot of characters in a lot of movies struggle to love yet the audience somehow feels sympathy for. As far as Ali goes, he was in the film for less than 10 minutes and for me never really had a lasting impact. By the middle of the second act, I had forgotten that he was a part of the story. As far as the lead goes, I found that I connected more with teenaged Chiron played by Ashton Sanders. Sanders to me displayed the most emotion and struggle than any of the other actors. Young Hibbert had very little dialogue and played the quiet kid like any other young actor has or ever will and Trevante Rhodes was the less sympathetic version of Chiron. You know what I take that back, I don’t think it was Rhodes but the age representation that Rhodes is playing. I just would have thought after the conclusion of the second act and the revelations that come out of it that Chiron would be placed on a different path; however he seems to have just made the most stereotypical path that could have been displayed. I unfortunately just never connected to Chiron and in saying that it is not because I’m White or heterosexual, but because I really never felt empathy for him. As far as the story goes, I think that it needs to be told, however the way it is told through this film just seems lacking in depth.
I don’t think that my position on this movie would be any different if I watched this film before the Oscars, however I maybe did expect a little more, story-wise, seeing how it did win for Best Picture. To me Best Pictures need to be impactful like American Beauty or even last year’s winner Spotlight. I just fear that Moonlight won these awards for all the wrong reasons. My fear is that this film won due to the social uproar that has been swirling around our world recently and not because of its merits as a film. Both racial equality and homosexual equality is a very hot topic right now and because this movie involves both that is why I fear it won. IF my fears are true, than the Oscars have become more of a political arena than the actual political party races come every November.
I know it sounds like I didn’t like this film; I actually thought it was good just not great. Technically I thought it was wonderful and the supporting cast was good…I just can’t get on board with it being a Best Picture winner. This is not me saying that I thought one film deserved to win over another, but I personally think that Moonlight won due to social influence and not how good of a film as a whole it is.
Worth Your Time (just maybe lower your Best Picture expectations)