The Light of the Moon (CIFF 2017)

The Light of the Moon tells the story of Bonnie (Stephanie Beatriz), who early on in the film is sexually assaulted after a night out with her friends. We follow her during the several weeks afterward as she deals with that, and the impact that it has on her and her relationships—particularly the one with her live-in boyfriend (Michael Stahl-David). There’s not much narrative momentum or overarching plot, so to speak; we just watch her live and cope with being a rape victim.

Essentially, it’s a movie that aims to both be a character study and a frank look at the system that victims of sexual assault have to deal with in order to get anything close to justice. On one side, we’ve got this effective, slightly unconventional, but always realistic feeling look into the psyche of Bonnie. The system she deals with, which is less prevalent but nonetheless makes its impact, is sad and sometimes shocking. It’s a background topic, one that only comes up three or four times, but you’ll notice.

Stephanie Beatriz is great in the lead role, portraying a character who doesn’t want to play the victim card, but nonetheless notices changes in her various relationships and her own mental state. She and Michael Stahl-David have a great chemistry together—chemistry that involves a lot of long conversation-fights—and the scenes they share together are wonderful. The Light of the Moon is sensitive, brutally honest, and just a bit unconventional. It achieves its goals, doesn’t overstay its welcome, and is a really good watch.

Conclusion: The Light of the Moon is a sensitive film about a subject that cinema so often gets wrong.

Recommendation: If the topic isn’t triggering, The Light of the Moon is worth seeing.

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