Review: 'The Light of the Moon', A Realistic Look At A Rape Survivor's Struggles

   Given the heightened exposure of and fight against rape culture climate that we are currently in right now, when I read the synopsis for The Light of the Moon, I was pretty interested to see how a movie that focuses on the complex aftermath of a sexual assault would go about telling this story.

   From the get-go this movie doesn't hold anything back when it comes to setting up the notorious conflicts that arise for women of sexual assault. Stephanie Beatriz, plays Bonnie, a woman who after her boyfriend Matt, played by Michael Stahl-David, stands her up for yet another work related situation decides to go out with her friends to a local bar. It's at this bar that Bonnie gets pretty drunk, but not drunk enough for her to not be able to make 10 minute walk back to her apartment.

   On the walk home, she is by herself and does something that we all tend to do when we are alone, want to pass the time, and don't want to appear and/or feel lonely; she's listening to music while wearing headphones. This creates the ideal scenario for a cowardly, disgusting, scum-bag of a person, power-driven boy (and I say "boy" because my definition of a man doesn't include someone that rapes) to capture Bonnie, dragging her into a secluded area, and raping her. What we see throughout the rest of the movie are the unyielding effects that this attack has on Bonnie and everyone else around her.

   Using research and incidents that involved two of her friends as inspiration for the story, Jessica M. Thompson, the movie's director, I think, did a pretty good job with her feature debut. I think everyone involved, especially Beatriz as the scared and vulnerable, yet understandably bitchy and angry survivor of sexual assault does a great job of capturing these conflicts within her character.

   I also think that the way in which the story is presented, opening up lines of dialogue and moral questioning with the viewer, is well done. By setting up all of those initial conflicts centering around things that are used as a purposeful or not purposeful tool to shame victims; like being alone, walking at night, not being aware of your surroundings, and not fighting back hard enough; it creates the perfect chance for introspection as you watch Bonnie struggling to come to terms with her new identity of being a "rape victim." This new identity creates the conflict where she knows that the incident has had an affect on her, but it also creates a problem as she tries to maintain a normal life, ignoring the fact that relationships with others get affected by situations like this too.

   That was one of the things that I did find a bit disappointing about the movie. It wasn't so much that it had decided to focus more on a person's relationships with others instead of that person's relationship with them self (though my own preference leans more toward wishing they had done that), my disappointment more so lies with the way in which the film was shot. I feel as though by choosing to not employ the use of more close-ups of Bonnie, not shooting the film from her perspective; opting instead to focus on the externalities, made the movie feel not as compelling as it could've been.

   I also, feel like the ending felt a bit rushed. In the movie's defense it doesn't seem too focused on giving the audience a definitive statement on the way in which a situation like this should be handled by everyone that is affected, however, I think that was again another missed opportunity at making us empathize with Bonnie more, making for a more compelling story. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the movie. I think this is a decent job from everyone involved, giving a realistic view into the struggles that too many people go through everyday around the world.

The Light of the Moon opens in theaters November 1, 2017

Rating: 3 out 5