Let’s cut to the chase. Believe the hype. This film will stand the test of time and will be considered a classic in years to come. From the very outset, everything about it is perfectly crafted, bringing vivacity and light to the pain and struggles of a man who feels trapped by his environment and sexuality.
The film follows the struggle of African-American man Chiron at three different stages of his life: childhood, adolescence and adulthood. With no father and a drug addicted mother, he has no one to rely on for guidance and support. Naomie Harris plays the role of his mother superbly, leaving us simultaneously despising her but sympathising with her for being a victim of the larger forces she is trapped within.
Chiron is alone in a world which continually shits on him from a great height. Whether it be his emotionally abusive mother or school bullies, the torment is relentless. While the vivid colours used in the film illuminate Liberty City, Miami into a seemingly paradisiacal location, the visually arresting handheld camera shots leave a sense of discomfort and sickness that force the viewer to align with the fear and negativity Chiron must experience every day.
"The vivid colours used in the film illuminate Liberty City, Miami into a seemingly paradisiacal location"
A lot has been made of what this film does to voice the struggles of a homosexual man in a community where homosexuality is ridiculed and belittled. I, however, see it instead as a film about masculinity and identity. The world Chiron inhabits is one which he doesn’t fit into, nor can he understand. Before him are never-ending testosterone-fuelled displays of male dominance. He cannot make sense of them nor avoid being the victim of them. The anger within him builds as his existence seems more and more inescapable.
It is at this point the question at the heart of the film is posed: in the face of hate, does a person remain true to themselves? Or do they conform to survive?
More like this: Boyz N The Hood (1991)