Bonnie (Stephanie Beatriz) is a successful New York architect who lives with her boyfriend Matt (Michael Stahl-David) in an upscale Bushwick apartment. One night she is sexually assaulted just three blocks from her home. Over the following four weeks she tries to come to terms with what has happened and to make some start on an emotional recovery.
The Light of the Moon is dark, miserable stuff. How could it be anything else? It is always a challenging and risky task for a filmmaker to tackle something as upsetting and awful as sexual assault. It is challenging because there is going to be an uphill battle attempting to get audiences into the cinema. It is risky because there is an enormous responsibility on the filmmaker to represent such matters responsibly and sensitively. In the latter regard writer/director Jessica M. Thompson has nothing to worry about. Her film is measured and intelligent. Most importantly it knows what matters in the story and what does not. It is, critically and thankfully, a film utterly devoid of a male gaze. Thompson’s success in expressing the story is also the solution to that challenging part: while a film about sexual assault does not sound entertaining, the quality of the script and direction makes it a powerful and deeply effective work. It is an independent film with a relatively limited budget, but technically it works well. It is very nicely photographed by Autumn Eakin.
Scenes involving the police investigation into finding Bonnie’s rapist are depressing but effective. The film mostly avoids giving easy answers. It does not tie everything up neatly in the end. Some things in the story do not feel fair; it is absolutely the right choice with this story that they do not. Thompson has chosen a difficult subject matter here, but she has respected it and deliberately chosen to accurately represent it. That makes The Light of the Moon a rewarding and powerful film.