The film “Moonlight” is a love story


Kevin (Andre Holland) and Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) Photo courtesy of IMDb.

I finally got to see “Moonlight” from director Barry Jenkins yesterday.

It was worth the wait. This is probably one of the best depictions we will see on the big screen of contemporary gay black men.

The film packs emotions — some sweet, some bitter. And the cinematography is so crisp and colorful it’s like you are right there with main characters Chiron and Kevin in Miami’s tough Liberty City and on the balmy subtropical beaches of South Florida.

Most reviewers have cast this film as a coming-of-age story of a gay black boy Chiron who is bullied unmercifully at school and neglected by his drug addicted mother Paula, played powerfully by Brit actress Naomie Harris.

Chiron’s only respite is the care he gets from drug dealer Juan (actor Mahershala Ali) and his girlfriend Teresa (Janelle Monae), who accept Chiron and answer the child’s question about what is a faggot with grace and sensitivity.

But to me — a gay man — this three-part film that follows friends Chiron and Kevin as children, teens and young adults is really a love story.

Soon after the film opens you see Chiron (actor Alex Hibbert), who is called “Little” because he is smaller than most of the other children, in a field playing soccer with others with a makeshift ball of newspaper. He leaves the playing and Kevin (Jaden Piner) follows him.

Although the other children call Chiron soft and a faggot,ย  Kevin says he doesn’t think Chiron is as passive as they make him out to be and challenges him to fight. And they do, wrestling each other to the ground.

So even as children Kevin already has cast himself as the mostly silent and brooding Chiron’s protector and supporter. And their physical grappling, although not sexual, foreshadows a connection that will come when they get older.


Photo courtesy of IMDb.

Later as teenagers Kevin (actor Jharrel Jerome) brags to Chiron (Ashton Sanders) about the girl he fucked in the school stairwell and how big his dick is. He says he tells Chiron these personal things because he knows Chiron “can keep a secret.”

This exchange would go over many straight folks’ heads as male locker room talk.

But gay men get it. “Straight men” or down-low men often try to seduce us by bragging about all the sex they get with girls or their dick size. Or they try to mollify their insecurity about really being gay by overcompensating their heterosexuality.

We know Kevin is crushing on Chiron, but he doesn’t know how to express it. At least not yet. And we know Chiron is attracted to Kevin because he fantasizes about him in his dreams. But he doesn’t know how to express it. Not yet.

Then one evening they bump into each other on a moonlit beach and consummate their attraction. It’s an exquisite, sensitively portrayed scene. I won’t spoil it for you — you really have to watch it.


However, Kevin betrays Chiron in a violent act and the two are separated for 10 years. But one day Kevin (now portrayed by Andre Holland), who has become a cook and a waiter after being released from prison, hears a song a customer plays on the jukebox that reminds him of his teen love.

And he gets Chiron’s telephone number from Teresa and calls him and says he wants to reconnect. And Chiron, who is now portrayed by a stunningly handsome Trevante Rhodes, hops in his hoopty and drives the 9 hours from Atlanta and surprises Kevin at his restaurant.


Photo courtesy of IMDb.

When Kevin recognizes Chiron you can see the attraction that first drew them together hasn’t died. It’s in that yearning look in both their eyes.

But will they break through all the bullshit — all the ways black men are taught to hide their emotions, be tough and masculine and live up to the expectations of others — and just be themselves?

You need to go see “Moonlight” to find out.




18 thoughts on “The film “Moonlight” is a love story

  1. Great review! I think the story is so important especially today. The last time I saw anything remotely close to this was back when LA Complex had Tariq and Kal in their tragic arc. I’m going to see it soon, bought an extra ticket just for support. Plus I want to bear Andre Holland’s progeny.


  2. I have heard nothing but the most glowing reviews about this movie. I’m happy that it’s getting noticed, not only because it’s about the lives of Black boys, men. and Black Gay men. This is rarely seen, acknowledged, Kudos, I plan to see it in a few days as it’s opening in Boston on Friday. I will see it twice to support this venture.

  3. Trevante Rhodes can come GET. DIS. ASS. NOW, and later, if he so desires #Zaddy ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ’

    I am waiting in line for tickets to go into the cinema as we speak ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ’‹

    #supportBlackventures #ADVOCACY #WOKE

  4. Man I can’t wait to finally see it thus Friday, based on what “little insight” you gave Immanuel , lol, it definitely will hit home
    As Im sure it does with many gay black\dl men. Ive been in this situation all my life so to see it on screen lets me once again know I wasn’t that peculiar as I use to think backintheday in elementary _ high school with my crushes, heart beating a mile a minute whenever He walked in. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I’m not sure why more people didnโ€™t see this as a love story. Thatโ€™s what made it so beautiful to me. It was a story of love and forgiveness. Itโ€™s deeply layered but also left to unfold simply and subtly. The vulnerability of the characters comes out in small ways, and the film gives them time and space to slowly feel each other out. You can feel the nervous and excitement and tension and even a hint of danger in their feelings. I wish more films were made with this delicate touch. I hope their love lasts, especially after waiting for so long and enduring so much pain to find each other again.

    • Thanks for such a great comment. The actors that portrayed them said in interviews that it is implied they end up being together in a relationship. Like you I admire the delicate touch.

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