“Moonlight” Trailer – A Reaction

After reading The Ringer’s own Chris Ryan’s plea to get people to stop watching trailers, I wholeheartedly agreed with him… At the time.

And I’m kind of glad I went back to watching them for two reasons: 1) I love watching trailers to get a glimpse of a movie I’m excited about to whet my appetite, kind of like waking to the smell of bacon in the morning when you know breakfast is coming, and 2) I get to discover movies that I forgot were even in production or didn’t know even existed. I heard Wesley Morris of The New York Times talk about a film that's coming out this year on Bill Simmons’s podcast, which Simmons, and many other people, should look forward to watching. I could hear the admiration and appreciation in Morris' voice when he was speaking about this film as he attempted to not reveal too much. The film he was discussing is Moonlight, and its alluring trailer has my appetite fully whetted … As weirds as that may sound.


The film is produced, written and directed by Barry Jenkins who made his debut with Medicine for Melancholy starring Wyatt Cenac and Tracey Heggins several years back, which made the rounds in the festival circuit. His new film is based on In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, a play written by award-winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney. IMDb describes the film as “a three-part narrative spanning the childhood, adolescence, and adulthood of an African-American man who survives Miami’s drug-plagued inner city, finding love in unexpected places and the possibility of change within himself.” From the looks of the trailer, it matches the synopsis. But it’s also easy to see that it also tells the story of a gay black man growing up in the American ghetto as he tries to find himself.

After doing a minor research on McCraney, I found this interview with The Guardian that not only spotlights his decorated career, (he’s the 43rd member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, along with fellow members like John Malkovich, Joan Allen and Gary Cole) but also sheds light on his upbringing in his hometown of Liberty City, Miami, where he had to stop talking to his childhood best friend after he called Tarell a faggot, and he had to deal with bullying for his apparent femininity. (McCraney has no qualms about this now, nor is he reliant on self-pity, beaming “I’m all right!”) So it appears that this story is an autobiography of sorts, which wouldn’t be surprising as he exclaims in this Cane Talks presentation that “every city has its story.” McCraney seems to be sharing his with the world.

Since I watched the trailer last week, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. It could be the deftly curated visuals synchronized with lovely, shrieking violins doing what a trailer should be doing by showing us what the film is (or could be) about without showing us everything. It could also be my delight that this story being told through filmmaking; a story of a black homosexual. There is a stigma in regards homophobia in black culture throughout Western civilization, which bemoans and demonizes black men who are attracted to their own. This attitude towards this dated taboo runs deep, (I mean shit, speaking to the right, educated person, it apparently runs all the way back to slavery), so we might save it for another time when I’m more knowledgeable on the matter and once I’ve seen the movie since I’m planning on being one of the first people in line for it.

Shout out to A24 for not only making this film, (among many stellar and ambitious fare  like The Lobster, Green Room and The Witch) but also making it their first fully financed feature with help from Plan B and Adele Romanski. I’m just excited to see a different story being told. Particularly, this story being told. A story written by a black man, adapted by a black man, featuring a black cast that includes Andre Holland (The Knick), Naomie Harris (Spectre), Mahershala Ali (Netflix’s upcoming Luke Cage) and Trevanthe Rhodes, starring as Chiron in Moonlight. A story that will portray a boy’s bond with his father, his dysfunctional relationship with his mother, and growing up in a place where he doesn’t feel wanted nor does he belongs in. And, mainly, a story about finding one’s self. Someone poses the question in the trailer, "Who is you, Chiron?” After the movie screens at TIFF and NYFF, I can’t wait for it to come around so I can find out the answer on October 21st.


written by The W


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