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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Light of the Moon is the very personal story of one woman's experience following a brutal rape by a stranger. Writer-director-editor Jessica M. Thompson aims for reality and intensity, never exploitation. The rape scene is played in real time. While what is happening is clear and disturbing, it's played in shadows and carefully edited. Later lengthy lovemaking scenes with the heroine and her partner, with partial nudity and both sexual intercourse and oral sex, are also filmed with restraint. Those sequences play a crucial part as the lead tries to reclaim her life. Frequent cursing includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "pr--k," "damn," "get laid." Social drinking occurs in numerous settings -- in bars, at home; in one scene, the heroine gets very drunk and later refers to having used cocaine. Well-made and beautifully acted, this movie is for mature audiences only.
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What's the story?
Brooklyn, New York, is the setting for THE LIGHT OF THE MOON. Bonnie (Stephanie Beatriz, best known for Brooklyn Nine-Nine) is an architect on the rise. Bonnie's in love with Matt (Michael David-Stahl), an ambitious young man who hasn't quite got his priorities straight. She's disappointed when he bows out of plans for an evening with friends. At a local club, drinking and partying are in high gear. Bonnie has had too much to drink when she and her friends say goodnight. She demurs when they want to walk her home. So she's vulnerable, oblivious, and high when a stranger grabs her on the dark city street, pulls her into an alley, and rapes her. Her resistance only makes him angry and he beats her. When he's gone, Bonnie makes her way back to her apartment. What follows are Bonnie's heartbreaking attempts to cope with the assault and its devastating effects on her life. Dealing with the medical, legal, and workplace challenges are significant, but nothing is as unsettling and scary as Bonnie's personal journey. Heightening the already fraught circumstances are Matt's loving but overprotective concern, a difficult relationship with her traditional Latino family, and the fact that Bonnie secretly feels ashamed of putting herself in harm's way. The young woman must call upon her inner strength and resourcefulness to find her way back to normalcy and a new awareness.
Is it any good?
A deeply affecting story, with a remarkable performance by Stephanie Beatriz, this film is compelling and insightful as it adeptly portrays a life-changing experience with honesty and compassion. Winner of multiple film festival awards, The Light of the Moon was written, directed, and edited by Australian filmmaker Jessica M. Thompson, who gets strong work from many of the featured players as well. Especially noteworthy are Michael David-Stahl and Conrad Ricamora. The production is solid throughout. Art direction, editing, and music are all first-rate with what must have been a minuscule budget. The message of the movie, about adversity and the long, slow road to recovery, is heartfelt and should resonate particularly with mature teens and young adults.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way the filmmaker handled the sexuality in The Light of the Moon. Did the sex scenes ever feel gratuitous? How were they used to facilitate both character and story?
What is the meaning of the term "cautionary tale"? In what way or ways was this movie a cautionary tale? What were your takeaways about safety? About coping with adversity?
Why was it important for Bonnie to finally confide in her family and friends? How did keeping the real story a secret prevent her from fully healing? Have you ever noticed that keeping secrets sometimes makes things worse? Think of an example from your own life that may confirm this idea.
- In theaters: November 1, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: February 28, 2018
- Cast: Stephanie Beatriz, Michael David-Stahl, Conrad Rica
- Director: Jessica M. Thompson
- Studios: Amazon Direct, Stedfast Productions
- Genre: Drama
- Character Strengths: Communication, Compassion, Empathy, Integrity, Perseverance
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
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