Chiron is a black boy growing up in a tough neighborhood in Miami. His mother (Naomi Harris) kicks him out of their house often to do drugs. Accidentally, he befriends Juan (Mahershala Ali), a man with a good heart and a nice girlfriend, both of whom, open their home to Chiron and give him food and money, possibly to atone for the fact that Juan controls the drug selling in the neighborhood.
Chiron is a sensitive boy. Most boys pick on him and call him names. He knows how to fight back but most times chooses not to. Kevin is his only friend, or at least the only boy who doesn't care how he is. Over the course of the years, Chiron will struggle with his identity (sexual and otherwise), his sense of direction, the lack of love he has received from his biological mother, and the cycle of poverty, violence, and drugs in his neighborhood.
Moonlight, like most movies that competed at the Oscars this year, is powerful in an understated way. It is a meditation on race, identity, the search for love, violence, poverty, and drug abuse, without one single element in the movie overpowering the others.
Chiron's journey, from boyhood to adulthood, is narrated in three acts. As an audience, we witness a boy grappling with his sense of self triggered by hurtful words coming from left and right, seemingly small acts that compounded lead to the choices the main character makes...And by the closing act, those choices are far from pretty; the vicious cycle of the streets he grew up in has been set in motion.