Bonnie (Stephanie Beatriz) seems to be living the good life. She’s young, has a nice job in New York City as an architect, a good group of friends, and even better, a loving and supporting boyfriend (Michael Stahl-David), who may not be perfect, but does what a good boyfriend should do. However, her wonderful and nice life changes when late one night, after a heavy night of drinking and partying with co-workers, she is taken into an abandoned alleyway and raped by a total and complete stranger. Obviously, Bonnie goes through the system of testing and finding out who her perpetrator was, but it’s the long and winding affects of the rape itself that continue to stick with Bonnie and not just haunt her life, but those around her, as well.
The Light of the Moon could have easily been another TV-movie-of-the-week that, while it approached its subject with honesty and humanity, could have also been melodramatic and silly. Especially when you have a movie that deals with rape and its after-effects, it’s either that the creators behind it don’t want to go too far into the description, so as not to offend anyone, or they’ll scratch the surface, just to a certain degree. Writer/director/producer Jessica M. Thompson isn’t afraid to go deeper and further into these issues, discuss them, and approach them head-on to where it’s almost uncomfortable to watch sometimes.
But you know what? Rape itself is uncomfortable and it should be discussed in the same manner. Thompson knows this and understands this, which is why the Light of the Moon hits hard than most “message-movies” of its nature; it’s not discussing how rape happens in the first place, or how awful the system can be (even though, of course, we know that). More or less, it’s discussing the kind of affects it can have on a person, small or tall, and why it’s not always easy to diagnose as a problem, until it’s taken over your whole life for good.
It’s also why Stephanie Beatriz’s performance is something of a quiet, desperate, and upsetting revelation.
It’s the kind of role that gets passed-up on come awards-season because, let’s face it, the movie is small and has a very limited-distribution plan, but Beatriz, for all of the effort she puts in her, but without ever showing it, deserves some attention. It’s a small, subtle role that doesn’t always ask or demand of her to yell, scream, and holler of her plans, but instead, sit there, look upset, boil in her own misery, and cry for love and help, but without ever actually crying. It’s not an easy role to pull-off without looking like you’re trying too hard, but Beatriz is more than up to the occasion and it’s a shocker that she gets away with so many raw and heartfelt emotions, by doing so very little.
It’s also crazy how much of this role paints her in such an unlikable and, at times, unflattering light, but that’s also the point. That Bonnie begins to alienate all of those around her after the rape, isn’t meant to be a character-flaw, as much as it’s a psychological-issue that most victims of violence go through; they don’t want people loving them, or treating them better than they did before, but at the same time, they sort of do. Once again, it’s a rough role that takes a lot of looking after and studying, but it’s also why Beatriz’s performance is so great and makes you wonder what she’s got next up her sleeve, when she isn’t stealing scenes on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Yes, the same comedy show on Fox starring Andy Samberg. I know.
Consensus: By approaching its rough and raw material in a subtle, but upfront manner, the Light of the Moon remains a sad and unsettling look at rape, especially with an amazing performance from Stephanie Beatriz in the lead role.
7 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Imagination Worldwide/The Film Collaborative