The minimalist beauty of the 89th Annual Academy Award for Best Picture, the film ‘Moonlight,’ is both elegiac and hopeful. In a world of poverty and violence, a richness of character, however flawed, shines transcendent. This film is artful. This film is all that a Best Picture should be.
Before ‘Moonlight’ received its Oscar nomination, the first person I know who saw it came back from the theater with her face aglow. “You have to go see it,” they stated. “What’s it about?” I asked. “You just have to go see it,” they replied.
Moonlight is a hero’s odyssey. The main character, Chiron, is the African-American son of a crack-addicted mother and target of bullying at his Miami school. The film is divided into the Greek three act structure, wherein Chiron is portrayed in glimpses as a young boy, teenager, and man. The name Chiron traces its origin to classic Greek mythology; Chiron was a civilized, intelligent centaur, who, in varying accounts, gave up his immortality. (The character has been explored for millennia, in Greek and Roman mythology, in Dante’s Inferno, and Pulitzer Prize winning author John Updike’s novel The Centaur, which was set in the context of 20th-century small-town America.)
The cinematographer’s palette is exquisitely utilized. Pale sheets of color—Miami pastels—appear as washes that transform walls in Chiron’s mother’s low income housing into a vibratory entity similar to Rothko’s paintings.
The sound track includes contemporary classical music, rap, and an even an R&B song that echoes the sweet layered harmonies of the innocent 1950’s. The score’s disparate melodies all work together despite referencing different cultures and time periods. There is so much beauty and so much pain.
This film is brutal, and timeless. While it is set in a world that most audience members would not voluntarily visit, it is universal in its depiction of a first, true love.
Everyone will remember the 89th Academy Awards because of the accidental announcement of ‘La La Land’ as Best Picture. But ‘La La Land,’ with all the advantage of being a film by Hollywood about Hollywood, piled on the trappings of the Golden Era while having forgotten the old adage, all that glitters isn’t gold. While ‘La La Land’ tells us of love aborted for the cult of ambition; ‘Moonlight’ shows us a world where love is the only ambition.
Moira Cue is art and literature editor of Hollywood Sentinel, and an award winning multi-media artist working in art, music, film, and fiction among more. For more information on Moira visit the official website at www.MoiraCue.com
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