Light of My Life
WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
A decade after a plague has wiped out nearly all of the world’s female population, a father and daughter live on the outskirts of what’s left of civilisation as they once knew it. Disguising his daughter as a boy, the father struggles to protect her from newfound threats as they are forced from their home into dangerous territory. Prepared to defend his daughter at all costs, his and her bond and the character of humanity are tested.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
What would the world look like if nearly all its female population was wiped out by a global pandemic? That's the question that Casey Affleck's post-apocalyptic drama explores at glacier pace over its 119 minute run.
The film - which was written, directed, and stars Affleck – is a sombre cinematic masterpiece that slowly and carefully takes on highly sensitive themes such as gender, sexuality, and the patriarchy.
The film opens with one lengthy scene which shows Affleck lying in a tent at night whilst telling the story of Noah's Ark to his child from the perspective of two foxes. This opening sequence not only sets the tone for the film but is also a standout as far as opening scenes go.
What makes it so successful isn't what's being shown and told on screen, but rather what isn't. There's a lot of information left out, but the viewer is provided ample material to start putting the pieces of the puzzle together. This method of storytelling spreads further throughout the film as the horror at the heart of its plotline is never fully revealed and remains mostly unseen. It's what we aren't being told that manifests as fear throughout.
In the time of #MeToo, we know that that which remains untold feeds the most dangerous of evils.
Light of My Life skins toxic masculinity down to the bone and openly exposes the way men believe in the superiority of their gender. It also asks questions about how we define gender and what qualities we attribute to being masculine or feminine based on social norms - even in a world where all systems have collapsed.
This, of course, is no coincidence. In 2010 two sexual harassment suits were filed against Affleck by two women involved in the production of his passion project I'm Still Here starring his then brother-in-law, Joaquin Phoenix.
The allegations were later settled out of court "to the satisfaction of all", but the backlash from it has been a dark cloud following the actor as he's moved through his career and resurfaced when he won the Best Actor Oscar for Manchester by the Sea.
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in 2018, Affleck addressed the past harassment allegations against him, apologising for allowing an unprofessional atmosphere on set which led to the civil lawsuits.
In the film his character is mostly in isolation forcing a lot of intro-inspection and self-observation during which he is faced with his own biases, flaws, and prejudices. Affleck is forcing himself to take on his very own demons through his character who must face the realities of that which seems to be engraved within him. Can he escape it? Can he recognise it in others? Will it filter down to his child?
As he struggles to find peace again the answer to his questions come to him not through books or other adults, but his daughter – the one who he will protect with every power he of his being. The light of his life.