THE LIGHT OF THE MOON
Director: Jessica M. Thompson
Written by: Jessica M. Thompson
Cast: Stephanie Beatriz, Michael Stahl-David, Conrad Ricamora, Catherine Curtin
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 10/13/17
Opens: November 1, 2017
Grief is not a pleasant emotion but it’s a human one. We grieve for the dead and injured in the Las Vegas shooting, for the people in Northern California who lost their homes, and for the folks in Puerto Rico who are without electricity and clean drinking water. In fact a person who does not feel grief for any of these tragedies must be lacking in humanity. In her freshman film, Jessica M. Thompson, who wrote and directs, shows another aspect of grief: not simply the way Bonnie (Stephanie Beatriz), a victim of an unfortunate incident, feels it, but the way that she at the same time becomes annoyed by the smothering treatment she receives from co-workers and especially from her workaholic boyfriend Matt (Michael Stahl-David).
The story takes place in the hip neighborhood that lies in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge in what’s now a place that Brooklynites are proud to say the live. Bonnie, who works as a young architect in a firm ten minutes’ walk from her Williamsburg digs, has had too much to drink, and though best friend Jack (Conrad Ricamora) offers to put her into a taxi, she walks wrapped up in her headphones and giddy from the equivalent of twelve drinks. A thug approaches her, puts his hand over her mouth, and drags her to a dark alley where she is raped. After going home she reports the action to the police, where nurses taking her DNA and giving her tetanus injections are still skeptical about whether she brought the crime upon herself by being drunk.
As though this brusqueness is not pleasant, she seems equally teed off about the over-attention she receives, everyone in in the office inquiring about her solicitously, a server in a coffee shop putting a complimentary piece of chocolate on her table, but especially irksome to her is that Matt, who frequently works late, regularly arrives back early at their shared living quarters and gets her breakfast in bed. Her mother, a religious Latina woman, urges her to move, but you expect this kind of treatment from a mom. But from everyone else?
Many rape movies use the crime as an excuse for revenge, but this one is straightforward indie-ish and all actions come across as authentic. Even the notification she gets from a prosecuting attorney is pessimistic: Kirra (Catherine Curtin) relates with sadness how one defense attorney that she will have to face if the guy is caught has a rep for breaking victims down, indicating to juries in this case that her tipsy state encourages such actions and that many a criminal gets away with the crime.
This is an interesting first feature with cast members only a few cinephiles will have seen before. We come away figuring that while Bonnie is just one individual, her reactions post-rape are likely to be felt by many a victim months, maybe years later.
Unrated. 94 minutes. © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Comments, readers? Agree? Disagree? Why?
Story – B-
Acting – B
Technical – B
Overall – B