Moonlight: A Fragmented but Unified Journey

By Kevin Yu

Moonlight is amazing! It is a kind of movies I absolutely love: minimized plot, limited dialogue, and uses visual styles to depict emotions. It is in any way as good as, if not better than, Carol from 2015.

Moonlight’s story, if summarized, is surprisingly simple. It is more like fragments of narrative elements than a consistent plot. Drug addict mom, friendly drug seller mentors, bullies, first love and their reunion. Divided into three parts, much of the story is left in blank, and we need to figure it out by ourselves. That’s why the scarce dialogues are necessary and also extremely captivating.


The swimming scene. “Still from Moonlight, (2016.) Image from IMDb.”

What hold the fragments together are the visual styles. Slow camera movements, rich but usually cold colors, and interesting choice of music (not a visual style though) speak for themselves. The tone of the movies is sad and lonely, and our protagonist sentimental and sensitive to getting hurt. Every minute I can feel the bleak emotions, drowned in them, choked by them, just like the physically drowned-like reaction I get from the swimming scene, where the camera is half in the water.

Chiron’s life is a journey defined by others. “What’s a faggot? Am I a faggot?” he asks, seeking a definition. The first part of the movie is titled “Little,” because other kids call him Little. Teresa says she is going to call him by his name, and the second part becomes “Chiron,” his name. Kevin in the second part gives him a nickname, “Black,” which again becomes the title for the third part. He becomes a drug seller like Juan and wears a gold necklace like Kevin used to, but in the end he is still the sentimental boy who needs to love and be loved, who shines blue in the moonlight.


Black boys shine blue in the moonlight. “Still from Moonlight, (2016.) Image from IMDb.”

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6 Responses to Moonlight: A Fragmented but Unified Journey

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I left this film in awe of Barry Jenkins’s filmmaking prowess. The camerawork is really something special; every shot feels like it has purpose, and the cinematography brings extra emotional heft to the scenes. The storytelling technique used – only showing three stages in Chiron’s life – was executed perfectly. The transitions felt seamless even though the character grows a lot in between these transitions in time.

    I could go on all day about this movie and why it’s gonna be looked at for years to come. It’s a very important film that demands multiple viewings.

    – Cal Parsons

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I have not seen this film but from your description I can almost build the story and create the image in my head. I think in film it is necessary to at times have less dialogue and let the viewers figure things out. Based off of your description I feel as if the colors and camera angles create a tone for you and imply subtly how you should feel. I think I need to check this film out, your descriptions has me wanting to know if the image i have in my head correlates in the movie.

    -Dez Wortham

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I have not seen Moonlight yet, but I’ve wanted to for awhile. Your description has made me want to see it even more. Based on your description I can better understand why the film has received so much praise. I think the best films are those that are able to captivate their audiences with more camera work and visual choices than just dialogue and it sounds like Moonlight does just that. I look forward to seeing it for myself.

    -Walker Rise

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I am going to see this movie this weekend so I can finally join on the praise everyone gives it. Your post makes me want to see it that much more! Can’t wait!

    -Kendra Thornton

  5. mediaphiles says:

    I loved Moonlight. Personally I think it should win Best Picture at the Oscars. While other films were certainly more fun, this serious tale is so important to align people with a more forward thinking sentiment. Chiron’s story needs to be heard, and I encourage all of you to go see it at Aperture just downtown in Winston Salem. The theater is a great resources for many of the Oscar nominated films and if you haven’t seen Moonlight, take time out of your free schedule to see it and be blown away.

    Russell Lawrence

  6. mediaphiles says:

    I haven’t seen this movie yet, but I am really looking forward to it. The comments on the camera movements and colors were very effective, and I will make sure to pay attention to these aspects when I finally get to see the movie!

    Catherine Maier

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