Light of My Life
It’s one thing to face the challenges of raising a child as a single parent. It’s another to face the challenges of raising one of the last few daughters on earth. With that in mind, Casey Affleck emerges in the director’s chair in Light of My Life, which premiered in the Panorama section of this year’s Berlinale festival. In an apocalyptic world, where the female population has been recently eradicated by the ominous QBT virus, Affleck plays the Dad to Rag (Anna Pniowsky). one of the few surviving females. We never meet another woman; they exist only as rumours. In order to avoid Rag’s capture, the pair is bound to a nomadic life in the wilderness.
Despite the grandeur of the premise, Light of My Life is a stripped-back portrait of father and daughter-hood. Affleck combats its insecurities with flair. The probing girl questions everything and if he doesn’t have an answer he looks for one. The focus is their playfulness dynamic not the impending sense of dread. For a plot submerged in the woods, there is an undoubted reliance on performance. Affleck and Pniowsky excel in their interactions on the forest floor, which remain authentic and could be teleported to a regular household without the backdrop of doom. The dynamic between the actors seethes with a textured authenticity – inevitably frustrated at times, we never doubt their connection. Even Elisabeth Moss, who dances in and out of the film as memory fragments, holds her ground.
As a director to a drama with flicks of sci-fi and horror, Affleck keeps impressive restraint. Though there are the lurking danger and the constant reminder of escape routes there is little confrontation. When the inevitable occurs, the brutality is confined to the dark corners of the attic or plays out on the other side of the door frame. Light of My Life is not about violence but the interdependence of a father and daughter. The restraint opens up ample room for metaphor and religious nuance to seep into the fabric of the film.
Granted, this is not the most revolutionary story, however, Affleck as writer-director-actor nestles amongst the endless wilderness (captured by Adam Arkapaw with experience) and conjures up a fresh lens on an old survivalist tale.
Light of My Life does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.