This was a heavy movie.
It’s the story of a gay black kid growing up in Miami and having a pretty rough time. He gets bullied at school, his mother is a crack head, and the only father figure in his life is the guy who sells his mum crack. It’s moving, brutal and brilliant. But I had one massive problem with it: the ending. I thought the ending was flawed and anticlimactic.
No one agrees with me, especially my girlfriend. But then, my girlfriend is a pathological contrarian. She says I don’t like that she’s opinionated, but that’s not true; I just have a problem with her opinion consistently being at odds with mine. I don’t expect her to agree with every viewpoint I express, but one or two a year would be nice. Here’s an example of a conversation we had recently:
Me: Ow! I just fell down the stairs and broke my leg.
Her: No you didn’t.
Me: I did. Look. My foot is completely backwards.
Her: You’ve just strained it.
Me: But that’s my femur sticking out.
Her: No it isn’t.
Me: I need an ambulance.
Her: Don’t be so dramatic.
Me: I’m bleeding.
Her: That’s tomato sauce.
To be fair, I am frequently wrong, but I’m sticking to my guns with the ending of Moonlight; I thought it was a letdown. And I’ll tell you why once the people who haven’t seen the movie leave the room. Are they gone? Good. Here’s my problem with the ending: it was weak. The main character, Chiron, nicknamed “Little,” grows up and becomes a cookie cutter version of his father figure, the drug dealer. I get that. He created this tough outer shell (nicknamed “Black”) to protect the little gay kid inside him.
But then one day, Black gets a call from Kevin, the school friend who he had his first homosexual encounter with (a moonlit hand-shandy on the beach). Suddenly Black feels the vulnerability he’d worked so hard to conceal coming back. It’s been ten years. Kevin works at a diner now, in Miami. Black lives in Atlanta. He drives the nine hours to Miami, arriving at the diner after dark. Kevin makes him something to eat and they catch each other up on what they’ve been doing since high school: Kevin got married, had a kid, went to jail, got out, divorced, and now he lives an honest life. Chiron went to jail too. He changed his name to “Black” (Kevin’s high school nickname for him–very sentimental) and became a thug drug dealer with lots of muscles. Kevin is disappointed that he became a drug dealer. He likes the muscles fine, but the drug dealing not so much. “Them fronts? That car? Who is you, Chiron?”
After Kevin closes the restaurant they go back to his place, and that’s when it gets tense.
“You remember the last time I saw you,” says Kevin, leaning against the kitchen sink.
“For a long time, tried not to remember,” says Chiron, who stands by the back door as though he might run. “Tried to forget all those times. The good…the bad. All of it.”
Kevin nods. “Yeah, I know.”
After a long pause, Chiron confesses that Kevin is the only man that he has ever been intimate with. “The only one,” he says, and then they stare back at one another for a long time. The tension and romance in this scene are palpable. PALPABLE! But here’s where I think it went wrong: they cut to a close-up of Chiron with his head on Kevin’s shoulder, Kevin gently patting him. Roll credits.
For me, that was the biggest non-event in the history of cinema. Did I need to see them do a gay root right there in the kitchen? Of course not, but the patting of the head seemed impotent. You mean to tell me that after all these years they just had a little hug? No way. Where was the passion? Chiron hasn’t been with anyone for ten-fucking-years. Surely they would have made out at the very least. My girlfriend said that would have been too obvious.
“Then how about fading to black in the kitchen?” I said. “That would have been better; leave the audience to fill in the gaps.”
“But what happened is exactly what would have happened,” she said. “Kevin would have held him.”
“Yeah, but only after they’d trekked down to the beach for a sandy hand-job like the good old days,” I said.
“You’re an idiot,” she said.
All in all, the movie was one of the best I’ve seen in a while. The three-part structure was perfectly executed, the cinematography was sublime, the performances draw-dropping. I’ll get over the ending. Big thumbs up.