Light of My Life
Paramount // R // $22.98 // October 8, 2019
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted November 14, 2019
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Graphical Version
The Movie:

Occasionally when not providing contributions in features that are more universally respected, apparently Casey Affleck takes a turn with a movie that can be polarizing in some technical aspect that drags down the other virtues of the film, with 2002's Gerry being one that comes to mind for me, and is one that I haven't seen largely for that reason. There is the chance that Light of my Life may be one of those films, but who's to say.

The Oscar winner from Manchester by the Sea wrote and directed this film, which he stars in as "Dad," a father who is walking around a post-apocalyptic landscape with Rag (Anna Pniowsky, He's Out There). Rag is a girl but her identity is concealed by her Dad, as a pandemic wiped out a large chunk of the world's population a decade before. The film shows the two as they try to stay alive, dodging various different conflicts along the way.

The chemistry between Affleck and Pniowsky is well-established, but the film doesn't make them do all the heavy lifting, as there are occasional flashbacks showing a young Rag and her mom/Dad's wife…Mom (Elisabeth Moss, Us) as she almost sets limits on his character in these brief moments, moments that reproduce into the present day. The basic backdrop of the film has A Quiet Place come to mind frequently, but in a diversion from it, the focus on the head of the family and the oldest member as the former starts to see that he won't be able to protect his daughter the same way is fascinating to watch at times.

Affleck handles his strength and the reactions to his eventual weaknesses well, and Pniowsky is a surprise as Rag. Weirdly though, the film could probably have been better served by looking at their dynamic without the background of a pandemic. You wonder what random obstacles are going to get in the way of what is going on between the pair and then your attention moves away from it, towards the traditional mechanisms of films like this and I Am Legend.

The backdrop is a bit of a distraction, and the deliberate nature of what the characters go through in large stretches of it can be a little frustrating. But getting past those two things, there are moments within Light of my Life which are interesting and executed well by those involved. This may not be Gerry two dot oh exclusively, but it ruminates on some fascinating elements of character and the inevitable failings and promotions of those within the film.

The Blu-ray
The Video:

The AVC encode befitting Light of my Life doesn't show off a lot; the palette is a lot of drab colors, as it's winter in British Columbia, and the colors look natural. Image detail is where things are a nice asset for the film, as when Dad and Rag encounter an abandoned house, is pretty good as cobwebs and layers of dust are noticeable and include some grains and texture to them. Flesh tones are natural and facial pores and hairs look as good as a post-apocalyptic film setting could have. Nice work here.

The Sound:

A DTS-HD Master Audio surround 5.1 track for the film and, given the nature of the material, is fine. Dialogue is well-balanced and consistent, and when the moment is more dynamic (there aren't too many of course), directional effects are present and effective, and subwoofer activity is minimal but sound convincing nonetheless. Channel panning has a moment or two to come out when the source material counts on it. The soundtrack isn't dynamic, though it doesn't have a lot to work with. When it does it brings the goods.


Nary a tidbit.

Final Thoughts:

You have to hack through some of the weeds of Casey Affleck's writing to get to the heart of the story that Light of my Life is trying to tell, and even then it's not really a complete picture. Technically the disc is pretty darn good, but the lack of extras even two years after the fact is a disappointment. If you're up for a challenge I would definitely check this one out.

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