What Illuminates the Plot of the Movie – Moonlight?
Queerness has been a widespread topic in modern-day society. It has been displayed in a negative light through timeless cinema; however, more modern-day media is beginning to shift and bring positivity to the taboo of queerness. In the article, “Why Moonlight Is a Little Wonder of a Movie,” the author comments on the current state of affairs: “Our reality is queer. So are films. We have made a social art of pretending otherwise.” A pivot in the cultural conversation is essential in making the LGBTQ community more visible in the public eye. In recent times, particularly in the case of gay society, it has been characterised by a high degree of sex positivity. In Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight (2016), he encapsulates the vulnerability of a young, black, queer male, leaving the audience in awe of the beauty of the film. It is one of those films that “reminds the audience to stay tethered to those corners of queer experience…that the audience has trained themselves not to see,” by subtly depicting the experiences of Chiron as he grows up (The Future of Queer Cinema).
That moment when Chiron and Kevin are sitting by the water, they display a vulnerability that captivates the audience, drawing them into every passing moment. The intense eye contact between them leads the audience to genuinely feel the emotions radiating from the screen. This instance of vulnerability prompts the audience to keep focused and watch in awe as Chiron has his first sexual experience. What distinguishes this sexual scene is that it does not sensationalise sex but portrays the peace and ordinary nature of it. Unlike other sex or sexual scenes, this film lacks background music.
How it works
This absence of background noise only accentuates the intimacy on screen. A similar concept of intimacy is also showcased in a later scene when Chiron and Kevin, now adults, converse with each other for the first time in a decade. When Chiron tells Kevin that he is the only person who has ever touched him in a sexual manner, there is an energy injected into the atmosphere that immerses the audience into a state of anticipation. The silence between them speaks volumes to the audience. It exhibits the mutual experiences and emotions shared between the two men. This compels the audience to truly grasp the queerness of the film in its purest form—silence.
In terms of class discussion, there are a few points that could be posed that contribute to an introspection on the film. What did the class think about the overall movie? How did the subtleness of queerness contribute to the general structure of the plot? And what are the class’s thoughts on the final scene with Chiron and Kevin sitting by the water in each other’s arms?