The Light of the Moon Review

The Light of the Moon is a 2018 drama about a women whose world is irrevocably changed as she struggles to regain intimacy and control in her life.

Looking back to Jonathan Kaplan‘s 1988 The Accused, starring Jodie Foster as a party girl who is brutally raped and then judged on her actions leading to the assault, it seems way ahead of time considering today’s revolutionary climate. As women continue to make their justified stand, the lines grow thick, and yet they are often still faulted for the actions of predators, the subject of Jessica M. Thompson‘s latest film The Light of the Moon, a jarringly authentic examination of the aftermath of rape, the impact on the victim and her relationships, and the hollowness it leaves behind.

Bonnie (Stephanie Beatriz), works in New York, on the edge of making a name for herself, living with her workaholic boyfriend Matt (Michael Stahl-David). He passes on a planned night on the town, leaving her to go out with some coworkers where she drinks a bit and skips on the cab, deciding to walk home a little buzzed. Alone on a dark street, she is suddenly attacked, dragged into an ally, swiftly raped and beaten before he runs off into the night. She struggles home and makes some smart choices, encouraged by Matt to report the crime. While not everyone believes her, she hopes to get past it and move on, but this is not so easy, as the physical scars heal though what’s left inside burrows deep.

Putting all the emphasis on Bonnie, this is more of a character study than a melodramatic revenge thriller. It’s a raw examination of a woman who is shattered by the violation, bobbing uneasily on an ocean of guilt and uncertainty. The rape itself is brief, barely visible, yet harrowing to watch, focused entirely on Bonnie’s bruised face. What follows is the more humiliating it would seem, as we witness the procedural processing of the crime, shown in detail as she is questioned and prodded, though she shows forethought even in her shock. In truth, it changes everything for Bonnie, even her relationship with Matt, who is racked with his own guilt for not going with her and now dotes over her like a sick child, only reminding her of what has happened instead of really helping her move on.

What especially works here is how the film avoids the more obvious directions a movie like this tends to travel, shifting from the larger emotional conflicts to more subtle hurdles Bonnie faces, including what she thinks people see when they look at her bruised face or how her job is affected, or how she and Matt can restart their sex life. All of this is handled very well, with Beatriz giving Bonnie tremendous authenticity. She’s always been a fearless actress (most might know her from Brooklyn Nine-Nine), and here she is as sharp as a razor. It’s great work.

In the Light of the Moon is a small film, an independent work that is nonetheless smart and contemporary, all about the characters and relationships, serving almost as much as a psychological thriller as the genuinely personal drama it truly is. Placing blame is always in the peripheral and the burden of guilt heavy on both, the film exploring the devastation and effects on each. It’s not always easy to watch, but Thompson’s feature length debut is an intense, creative, and earnest movie that proves she is one to keep an eye on.

The Light of the Moon Review


Director(s): Jessica M. Thompson

Actor(s): Stephanie Beatriz, Michael Stahl-David, Catherine Curtin

Genre: Drama

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