The Moon Inside You
Spain, France, Slovakia 2009, 75 min.
The premise of the film is clear from the very first scenes: the director has decided that menstruation is a taboo which should be dealt with. As viewers, we are supposed to follow the director on an enlightening journey and find out what menstruation is all about. I am not sure I agree with the basic premise of the film. I am not sure menstruation is a taboo. It is true that menstruation is not something we talk much about – but that does not necessarily make it a taboo, does it? We don’t talk much about toothache or erection difficulties either but to my mind that doesn’t make them taboos.
The basic idea and structure of the film is that of a journey. A journey the director Diana Fabiánová takes along with the viewer to discover what it is about menstruation that makes it a complex phenomenon laden with prejudice, mystery and even fear. The complexity of the subject turns the film into a complex and somewhat disorderly experience.
Most successful are the recurring scenes in which a young teenage girl records her everyday life leading up to the day she gets her first period. These scenes have a calming honesty and contain much more relevant information than the (too) many talking heads. Also beneficial to the film are the poetical intermezzos where Diana Fabiánová plays herself and, for instance, illustrates how she gets a more aggressive appetite for men during her period. Other intermezzos are less convincing. Fabiánová makes extensive use of archive material. Sometimes the clips are used as illustrative points, other times the director wants to achieve a humorous tone, which often feels somewhat distracting and unnecessary. It feels a little like the director does not really believe in her material and has not reached any conclusions about how best to tell the story she wants to tell.
Towards the end of Fabiánová’s film and the end of her journey we meet a perspective on menstruation which is perhaps the best part of the film. The period can be looked upon as a time during which a woman is actually the most connected with her inner life and her own body. If women are able to view menstruation as a unique monthly opportunity to get to know themselves even better and to look inwards at deeper truths, then the individual woman and society as a whole have much to gain. There might be a somewhat clichéd, new-age appeal to the idea of menstruation as a monthly “giving birth to yourself” but the dimension of collectivity and connection between females creates a relevant and interesting full-stop in an otherwise lumpy documentary.