Apocalyptic: Our Review Of ‘Light of My Life’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - August 08, 2019
Apocalyptic: Our Review Of ‘Light of My Life’

Despite of everything, Light of My Life is a competent showcase of Casey Affleck’s aesthetic as a debut director. The Oscar winning actor stars, and for the first time, also writes this movie about post-apocalyptic world without women. His character, Caleb, has a lonely life because a plague killed every single female, including his wife (Elisabeth Moss). The only survivor of this plague, to his knowledge, is his daughter Rag (Anna Pniowsky), who he has to protect. As the director, Affleck needs to show the story of a man and his growing, rebellious daughter differently. And he does that job well, making the past normal and lived in while adding a darkness to the future. But it’s not all dark, as he shows nature in daylight, a safe refuge for a family surviving within.

This movie is also Affleck’s way of showing his ideas about gender and specifically, about what girls are like. One of Caleb’s ideas for protecting Rag is to not tell the other men that she’s actually a girl. Rag, then, only knows and expresses her femininity indoors, reading about other girls in old library books and magazines. Affleck seems to equate Rag’s instinctual search for femininity as a way to rebuild and civilize this apocalyptic world. Yes, Affleck, who ruined his career because he sexually harassed a woman, should not express ideas about gender dynamics. But thankfully he doesn’t write Rag as an unsympathetic character, justifying her rebellion against a man suppressing her gender. He also doesn’t idealize her or her mother as a cloying way to apologize like other problematic auteurs do.

The only bad thing about this movie is that of its two performances, only one of them is good. Affleck likes to write these long monologues for himself, making it seem like he likes to hear himself talk. The first monologue has Caleb retelling Noah’s Ark, obviously hinting to the fact that we’re watching an apocalyptic movie. He doesn’t know how to keep audiences interested while telling a long story, although he does better in later monologues. What makes this movie watchable other than its cinematography and its ideas is Pniwosky’s performance, mastering understated emotion. She knows when and how to interject while Caleb is talking and she knows how to fight for Anna’s ideas. Affleck’s camera is equally generous to Pniowsky, capturing her expressions in a movie would fall apart without her talent.

For Toronto movie fans, Light of My Life is playing at the Carlton Theatre starting tomorrow, August 9, 2019. They will screen the movie twice a day.

  • Release Date: 8/9/2019
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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