Moon Shines: The Light of the Moon reveals a beautiful and understated drama

Bonnie (Stephanie Beatriz, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) is a young architect who goes out with a few friends to celebrate her promotion on a new project. Later that night, while walking alone, she’s attacked just blocks from her home. The Light of the Moon accompanies Bonnie as she attempts to reclaim her life.

Exceptionally paced, The Light of the Moon sits with the aftermath of sexual assault. There is fear, rage, disbelief, tension and sadness as Bonnie tries to normalize her life as quickly as possible. More obvious actions of self-care, such as going to the hospital and filing a police report, are given the same attention as the raw and surprising conversation about resuming physical intimacy with her boyfriend. I haven’t seen many moments like these in other stories about sexual violence – this film shares them, and does it really well.

The Light of the Moon moves slowly, gently, and most importantly, without judging or exploiting its protagonist. Writer-director Jessica M. Thompson is precise in how she reveals the outcomes of the attack. Everything, even the glimmers of humour and optimism are on Bonnie’s terms. Beatriz is outstanding as the film’s heroine, who resists letting something so horrible affect her, but who eventually recognizes that she must create a slightly different path for herself.

The Light of the Moon really does feel like a film fest movie, but doesn’t invite cliché. More of a proverbial experience, the familiarity provides an effective backdrop to engage in a story about something so incredibly uncomfortable. Expertly crafted, you might not feel its many triumphs immediately after viewing, but The Light of the Moon will stay with you.

The Light of the Moon screens as a part of the New American Cinema Series at the Calgary International Film Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 6:45 p.m. at Cineplex Eau Claire 1 and on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 5 p.m. at Globe Cinema Downstairs. Director Jessica M. Thompson will be in attendance at the Sept. 23 screening. For tickets go to

Jane McCullough used to write about many things musical, artistic, cinematic and delicious with the publications VOX and Fast Forward. She is currently the cooking school coordinator at The Cookbook Co. Cooks.