It's not a standard horror film, but it has seriously-satisfying thrills.
Light of My Life
Director: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea. I’m Still Here)
Cast: Affleck, Anna Pniowsky (He’s Out There)
Runtime: I hr 59 min
By: John DeSando
“Survival can be summed up in three words - never give up. That's the heart of it really. Just keep trying.” Bear Grylls, explorer
I would have given all I owned to spend as much time with one of my daughters as Dad (Casey Affleck) does with his daughter, Rag (Anna Pniowsky), dressed like a boy, on the run from a disease that strikes only females. In Light of My Life, they roam the grey Okanaga Valley of British Columbia seeking refuge as much from bands of men looking for uninfected girls as from the plague itself.
If you can endure the overly-long opening story dad lovingly tells daughter, the almost two hours will fly by as the protagonists combat daunting obstacles.
The thoughts of the decimation of the female population are horror-film good enough for the imagination, so minimalist writer/director Affleck spares us the usual terrible tropes to concentrate on the loving relationship. As he does in his Oscar-winning acting, Affleck relies on slow-burning details.
That Affleck himself faced possible Oscar-negating accusations of sexual harassment makes his holy father here even more interesting than, say, Ben Foster’s father character in Leave No Trace.
Survival is the operating action here, mainly slipping out of windows as men storm the house or tent. Father and daughter are adept at escape, leaving only that motif for tension, whereas if they fought with each other (a pre-teen and her dad holds multiple possibilities) there might be more interesting conflict.
As in It Comes at Night (2017), the cloaked assailants and the disease give the imagination the usual willies, but fascination with the survival of a father-daughter left to survive is the greatest conflict of all. You’ll enjoy all of Affleck’s indie charms and insights in a quietly effective thriller.
“To survive it is often necessary to fight and to fight you have to dirty yourself.” George Orwell
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com