Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a special screening of the new Stedfast Productions film, The Light of the Moon, graciously hosted by award-winning director Michelle Mower, with the film’s lead, Stephanie Beatriz, also in attendance. The film is being distributed by Mower’s Imagination Worldwide. The Light of the Moon is the debut feature from writer/director Jessica M. Thompson, and stars Beatriz as Bonnie, and Michael Stahl-David as Matt, Bonnie’s boyfriend. Beatriz is most recognizable as tough detective Rosa Diaz in the hit Fox comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Michael Stahl-David might be most recently remembered from his role in the Netflix hit “Narcos.”
The film follows Bonnie for six weeks as she struggles to take back control and recapture some semblance of intimacy in her life. It is a powerfully empathetic view at the life of a recovering sexual assault victim, from her perspective. The role is definitely a departure for Beatriz, but one she welcomed as a challenge and a chance to act outside of her comfort zone.
When I first sat down to watch the film, before it even started, I was worried that the subject matter would be too strong and overwhelming. However, Jessica M. Thompson, and her cast, put together a beautifully-made, though-provoking story, powerful, but sensitive, not gratuitous. It is full of heart and empathy as it tackles a very difficult subject. The audience is put into the position where we have to confront the feelings that are evoked in watching Bonnie struggle with the aftermath of her rape. We have to deal with Matt’s frustration as he tries to do the right thing, but just can’t seem to get it correct for Bonnie. He is torn between being the comforter; the supporter; the strong, attentive boyfriend; but, also the man on the sidelines who just has to accept that he could never understand what Bonnie is going through. The film does an excellent job of portraying the conflicting emotions being experienced by both characters. Bonnie and Matt are faced with the challenging question; will their relationship survive this type of life-changing tragedy? Will Bonnie ever be able to regain control of her life?
Shot almost entirely in Brooklyn, New York, while Beatriz was on a short break from filming “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” The background is real, it’s Brooklyn, it’s dangerous, but it’s also beautiful, alive; a perfect backdrop for the dichotomy of landscapes that is needed for the film.
After the screening, I had the opportunity to speak briefly with Beatriz where I expressed my admiration for the film and her performance. I told her that this could be the timeliest film of the year, given the current revelations of rampant sexual misconduct and assaults. It does an excellent job in showing the filmgoer the aftermath of these horrors. The pain and suffering doesn’t end, and this film shows us just how deep the impact of sexual assault is on the victims’ lives.
The world premiere for the film was held at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival in March 2017, where it took home the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature Film. The film is now in limited theatrical release. I highly recommend you watch it.
Randy's Grade: A
Director: Jessica M. Thompson
Starring: Stephanie Beatriz, Michael Stahl-David, Catherine Curtin, Conrad RicamoraShare: