Barry Jenkins’ festival breakout “Moonlight” was a surprise hit in its opening weekend, earning $445,552 in four theaters. The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival to rave reviews, obtaining a rare 99 Metacritic score, making it one of the highest scored films on the site.
The drama chronicles the life of a young man and his struggles, told across three defining chapters in his life, as he experiences the joys, pain, and beauty of falling in love while grappling with his own sexuality.
Writer and director Jenkins and actors Trevante Rhodes, Naomie Harris and André Holland sat down with Charlie Rose to discuss the film’s challenges, what masculinity means, how Harris’ character, Paula, felt about learning about her son’s sexuality, and more.
“I play Kevin, who is sort of a childhood friend of Chiron, and who goes on to become the object of his affection. The big challenge was that I came in at the very end of the film, seemingly out of nowhere, and we don’t really understand why he’s come back,” explained Holland. “And they’re on screen together for a very long time, working through a problem and we don’t really know what the motivation of the character is.”
Jenkins’ also spoke about how masculinity is defined in the real world and how it changes ones perspective on who they are.
“There’s this performance of masculinity that the world is projecting at you, always. This is how a man walks, this is how he talks, how he speaks to another man. This is how he speaks to a woman,” said Jenkins. “I think that when you’re getting that stimulus so much from the outside world you start to lose your grip on what your idea of masculinity is, which I think is, if you’re a man growing up in the world that we grew up in, very key to your identity.”
The director also spoke about the inspiration for the film, his biggest hurdle in writing it, and how he feels about the reception the movie has received.
“I was very proud of it, no matter what anyone thought about it,” Jenkins explained. “People are just deeply moved to see themselves represented because they don’t see themselves very often.”
“Moonlight” will open in more big cities this Friday before its national release on November 4.
Watch the interview below.