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A poem in three verses about introversion and grit that is also a story about a boy growing up black and gay and functionally parentless in a poor Florida neighborhood. Through symmetry, silence, and omission, that depressing premise — imagine having to be a teenager in Florida — never invokes depression. Compare and contrast to sad tales of straight white lower-middle class woes.

Since issues of identity, gender, and race are somewhat of a thing in this early 21st century, the movie is also a Rorschach test for its audience. A thousand opinion pieces bloomed in its wake, few of which as deep as a single scene, yet quite a bit more pretentious. Thousands more are to come in liberal arts colleges across the country, and deservedly so — many films tend to induce sympathy and elation in one particular group of people, awkwardness and shame in another, and this one time those two groups have flipped.

Directed by Barry Jenkins, 2016

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