Light of My Life

USA, 2019, dir. Casey Affleck, 119 mins.

Date and Venue showing on August 12, 2019 at 6pm | Cineplex Odeon Park & Tilford Cinemas

Reviewer John Jane

Light of My Life is a dystopian drama filmed – though not actually set - in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. The film is written, directed and co-produced by Casey Affleck. He also gets to play the main role of a widower trying valiantly to protect his 11 year-old daughter by disguising her as a boy after his wife succumbs to a global plague that obliterates the female population. The film never really explains how this came about. The title is so oddly cheerful considering its dark premise that it would seem to belong to a different film.

We’ve seen plenty of examples of how film-makers who direct themselves wind up with a lame leading man. Affleck has made a niche career out of playing lugubrious losers and Affleck the director likely figured that Affleck the actor was the best choice. After all, it’s not much of a departure from his dark roles in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Gone Baby Gone and Manchester by the Sea.

Affleck, known only as “Dad” in the film, gets stellar support from his co-star, thirteen-year-old Canadian actress Anna Pniowsky and to a lesser extent from Elisabeth Moss, who also has a penchant for dystopian fare (The Handmaid’s Tale). Unfortunately, we only see her in a few – and very brief flashbacks.

Despite pandering to Affleck’s indulgences (the fifteen-minute opening scene has Affleck’s character telling his daughter a bedtime story), and little in the way of dramatic impact, the film does have some merit. Affleck shows off his capacity for valour under sufferance, and a certain sense of generosity towards his co-star by allowing her to steal many of the scenes they’re in together.

© 2019 John Jane