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Stephanie Beatriz and Michael Stahl-David in “The Light of the Moon”

The Light of the Moon,” which won the Narrative Feature Audience Award at SXSW 2017, was a perfect film to be included in the Citizen Jane Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri this past weekend – a festival devoted to women filmmakers. Written and directed by Jessica M. Thompson, the film focuses on a woman who is raped by a stranger on the street. While the rape scene is included, it’s the emotional aftermath that fills the bulk of this realistic story.

What I liked most about this film was that it depicted a true modern woman. She has a passionate sexual relationship with her boyfriend and is no stranger to partying. The way she reacts to what happens to her is absolutely believable. She isn’t martyred as someone who feels she can never have sex again or depicted one-dimensionally as a man-hater after the incident.

She does, however, go into a kind of denial, wanting her life to be as normal as possible while she’s surrounded by people who are tremendously loving – something that only causes her to feel anything but normal. Deep down, of course, she isn’t feeling normal.

I also appreciated that the writing didn’t take us down predictable paths. The road to healing for this woman isn’t obvious. We do get that she’s in some denial, but none of the people in her life are 100% certain of what to do for her, as she stumbles and struggles through her emotions. The film also doesn’t end with a neatly tied bow. It does give us somewhat of a conclusion, however, as we feel that the protagonist is on the road to her own version of recovery.

Stephanie Beatriz and Michael Stahl-David in “The Light of the Moon”

Stephanie Beatriz of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” gives a fine performance in the lead role. Her character may be a victim of rape, but she’s no victim in life. She also has great chemistry with Michael Stahl-David of “Narcos,” who plays her boyfriend. The supporting cast is equally good.

“The Light of the Moon” is playing a limited engagement in New York City at IFC starting Wed., Nov. 1, 2017. I highly recommend it, although I’m sure it will be triggering for anyone who has been sexually assaulted.

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