Amid this current efflorescence of African-American cinema that we are lucky enough to be living through, there has been a curious void. Where is the great gay romance among these movies? Where has been the black equivalent of Brokeback Mountain or Carol?
Well, that film is called Moonlight, and it’s on the same level as those others, though it bears a closer resemblance to Wong Kar-Wai’s 2001 romance In the Mood for Love, a love story of regrets and missed connections. It’s one of the best things you’ll see all year, and it’s coming soon to theaters in Arlington and Grapevine.
Based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s unproduced and better-titled play In Moonlight, Black Boys Look Blue, the movie is neatly divided into three sections, each labeled with the name that the main character goes by. In the first, he’s Little (Alex Hibbert), a Miami boy who cloaks himself in sullen silences to escape the bullying he gets from other boys, as well as his home life presided over by a crack-addicted mother (Naomie Harris). He gets taken in by Juan (Mahershala Ali), a kind man despite his profession as a drug dealer, who seems to instinctively know how to parent this kid. In the second, he’s a high-school student known by his given name of Chiron (Ashton Sanders) — that name rhyming with “Tyrone” — who falls for a smoothly handsome classmate named Kevin (Jharrel Jerome), only for two acts of violence to drive them apart. In the third, he’s Black (Trevante Rhodes), an Atlanta drug dealer who returns home after getting phone calls from his mom and Kevin (André Holland), both of them full of remorse over what they did to him.