A Love Adventure (Film Review: “Light of My Life”)

A heart-wrenching drama about a father and his young daughter trying to survive a decade after a plague has virtually wiped out the entire female population.

SnapShot Plot

The post-pandemic narrative – although the raison d’etre engine which drives the action to a certain point in Light of My Life – is but a secondary footnote in the fabric of this quietly shattering film. Written and directed by its star, Casey Affleck, the film is at once a survivalist adventure and an intimate portrait of a father’s love for his daughter. Set in a dystopian present somewhere in the hinterlands of British Columbia, a Dad and his pre-pubescent daughter, who he calls Rag, are living off the grid in the woods, trying to avoid other people as best they can. Since Rag was very small, it’s been just her and her Dad, having lost her mother (played by Elisabeth Moss in flashbacks) to a deadly plague years earlier which practically decimated all females from the planet. Her Dad has her trained well to be tough and disciplined, and to think for herself but listen to him at all costs.

Because Rag doesn’t need to know more than she can handle, and we know basically what Dad explains to her, suffice it to say that the world has become a dangerous place for the few females who have survived. There are rumors that clusters of women have formed post-pandemic, closed communities, yet even among those enclaves, girls are quite rare. Because Rag is still young enough to disguise as a boy, father and daughter do occasionally venture into town to pick up supplies and books (at the abandoned school’s library), hoping their camouflage won’t be revealed. But it’s just a matter of time before their luck and/or their endurance run out and they wind up seeking shelter and sanctuary with some strangers they can hopefully trust with their secret. Of course, the world intrudes in the simplest and most dangerous of ways, testing this father and daughter’s courage and ability to depend on each other for their very survival.

Parting Shot

In some magical way, Casey Affleck managed to write and direct a vehicle for himself that avoided the pitfalls of a Hollywood vanity project. You can chalk it up to a finely crafted vehicle that pulled the best out of an already impressive acting pedigree. You can also attribute that magic to the casting of newcomer Anna Pniowsky as Rag. From the intimately spellbinding opening scene in which Dad is making up a bedtime story for his daughter, this youngster’s quiet, steady gaze grabs you and doesn’t let you go. Most moving among the pair’s travels is the continuing series of conversations in which Dad tries to relate all he knows about the world to the curious and absorbent mind of his bright and intuitive daughter. In lieu of a normal education, we can see their dialogue as a kind of intellectual moveable feast, of a type that will teach her far more deeply than any academic curriculum from the past.

And behind everything it feels like a clock is silently ticking the hours and days until the inevitable moment beyond which they can’t hide out or insulate themselves from the very real dangers in this strange world. And that knowledge proves incredibly suspenseful, no matter how skilled at evasion they’ve become. The World will catch up to them; it’s just a matter of time.

Light of My Life is presently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Norma’s Streaming Picks is proud to partner on a fantastic site for Baby Boomers, Midcentury/Modern (presently known as Pandemic Diaries) as well as right here at home. I invite you to go there for more great content!

YouTube Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cr7N7isTZC8

Leave a Reply