In her directorial debut, Jessica M. Thompson carefully and respectively explores the aftermath of sexual assault in The Light of the Moon. In what could be the most important film by and about women this year, we are given a direct insight to a problem in our society that doesn’t get enough attention. Bonnie (Stephanie Beatriz) is a young architect in New York City. After a night out with friends, Bonnie walks home until she is pulled aside in an alley and sexually assaulted. The story begins here and with the heavy effects of a truthful script, the film examines the emotional toll and aftermath of rape.
Bonnie goes through the process of getting medically examined and tries to find ways in which she can leap back into normalcy and move on with her life. Her boyfriend, Matt (Michael Stahl- David), is super supportive and attentive to the point where it frustrates her that it took for her to get raped for him to be spontaneous and extra caring toward her. Matt tries to counter her on that, and their words become misconstrued as they both are affected by the assault. Bonnie struggles to have intimacy and continues to think about the experience as she’s trying to connect emotionally again with Matt. It raises huge concerns that people may feel when put in the position of either having to support the victim of an assault, or even being the one who’s trying to overcome it. Ultimately, it is Bonnie who needs to face her situation head on and not let what happened to her that night engulf her happiness and womanhood. She is persistent on not letting everyone around her treat her like a “wounded dog.” Her world keeps turning, whether she decides to address this or not. The Light of the Moon takes us through the experiences of victimhood and emotional trauma, while telling a story that our society needs to hear.From her comedy roots as Detective Rosa Diaz in the Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning TV show Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Beatriz finds a more emotional and momentous role in the telling of Bonnie’s recovery. She delivers a demanding vulnerability to the film, making it a strong and ultimately empowering story of survival. Stahl- David, while not heavily demanded in onscreen performance, is exceptional in all areas where Matt was needed to help Bonnie not feel excluded from her own daily life. Right off his appearance as Chris Feistl in Netflix’s season three of Narcos, Stahl-David found a compelling story behind this film. “Is there something in our culture that says men have to be dominant, in control, strong? And then that’s also connected to violence; that’s a lot of the ways we see dominance displayed. And then we see that spilling over to violence against women,” said Stahl-David, in an interview with BUILD.
The Light of the Moon empowers women who have been victims as well as encourages the discussion about the violence women experience. There are moments that aren’t so easy to watch and there are moments that aren’t as heavy on us as the main principle is. It comes to us in a critical time, with all the news breaking of sexual assault in the industry. The film could not be more vivid and timely.
I encourage you to seek out this film and become more aware of the social climate when it comes to the obstacles of this issue. The filmmaking team behind The Light of the Moon supports many organizations that work endlessly to end violence against women both in the United States and globally. To take action through these, visit their page.
My friend and fellow film critic, Danielle Solzman, got to interview Stephanie Beatriz recently. She spoke on The Light of the Moon, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and coming out as bisexual. You can read her interview over at The Young Folks website.
A clip from The Light of the Moon: