The Light of the Moon, a movie written and directed by Jessica M. Thompson, is set in a Brooklyn neighborhood that used to be bad in the 1980s but is now thoroughly gentrified. It concerns a young Hispanic woman, Bonnie (Stephanie Beatriz), and her young white boyfriend, Matt (Michael Stahl-David). Bonnie is an architect who works for a trendy firm. She is leading the design for a major project. She and her boyfriend are very ambitious and live in an apartment that easily costs $4,000 a month. They are a 21st-century couple.
Then something really bad strikes their perfect millennial world with the force and suddenness of a thunderbolt. It happens not long after a tipsy Bonnie bids farewell to friends and coworkers at a Brooklyn bar. One moment, she is walking down an empty street; the next, a stranger is threatening to kill her if she screams for help. He rapes her.
Later that evening, Bonnie's boyfriend takes her to a hospital, where she gets a morning-after pill and a shot of a drug that will hopefully protect her from HIV. Eventually the cops call her about a suspect, but Bonnie is reluctant to go to the police station. It's very clear that what she wants is not justice but her life back. But this is wishful thinking on her part. The film, which is expertly paced and patiently scripted, presents Bonnie with only one direction—forward—but she resists it again and again.
Bonnie wants to keep the incident a secret; Matt wants her to tell her family and close friends. She wants their relationship to resume as if nothing happened; he wants to move out of their apartment and to rebuild their relationship in another part of the city. She rejects any kind of therapy; he insists that she attend group counseling. The kinder the boyfriend becomes, the madder and more miserable she gets.
The boyfriend isn't wrong, he is doing the best he can, but he also loses her trust. And the price of this loss forms the complicated core of the film—which also has a racial dimension. Bonnie is Hispanic, she was raped by a white man, and this white man also raped a black woman. Bonnie does not bond with the black victim. She is in fact horrified by their connection, as it exposes her to her own color and culture. Bonnie is not a white woman.
Some might respond the way the black woman in The Light of the Moon does—they will eagerly work with the police, seek justice, and receive emotional support. Some might explode like the lover of the rape victim in Gaspar Noé's Irréversible, and attempt to hunt down and beat the criminal to a pulp. But some might respond like Bonnie. What the director wants us to understand, what the film dramatizes with a complexity that will likely feel personal, is that there isn't only one way to respond to rape.