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Tuesday, October 22, 2019


(Anna Pniowsky & Casey Affleck)

Casey Affleck and Anna Pniowsky give tremendous performances in this brooding, dystopian father-and-daughter drama. (Review: Patrick Compton - 8/10)

An ambitious, wordy opening scene in a tent, dimly lit, introduces us to the principals in this drama as an 11-year-old girl listens to her father’s particular take on the Noah’s Ark story. If you are immediately sucked in (as I was), then you’re good to go for the rest of this poignant, thoroughly absorbing movie.

Affleck (Manchester By The Sea), who wrote, directed and stars in the film, plays the father, while super-talented newcomer Anna Pniowsky is the daughter. The pair are cast adrift in rural America after a pandemic wipes out virtually the entire female sex throughout the world. Rag, as she is called, is forced to hide her identity in public by dressing as a boy and calling herself Alex.

The film casts a nuanced eye on their rich relationship, with Affleck the fiercely protective but curiously vulnerable father while Pniowsky is stunning as his young daughter whose getting of wisdom during the course of the film is an increasingly wonderful thing. Some might find the action a little slow at times, but the external dangers that the pair face – particularly the threat posed by predatory men – give the movie a small but significant narrative momentum.

The movie has a certain familiarity to it, with Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace and Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel, The Road, offering fairly close parallels.

Nevertheless, Affleck’s film impressively inhabits its own terrain.

Daniel Hart’s ominous score effectively dramatises the action whenever immediate danger looms, particularly in the frightening climax, while Adam Arkapaw’s camera paints an eloquent picture of the often cruelly beautiful American wilderness with a palette of pale whites, greys and browns.

The always impressive Elizabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) has a cameo role as Rag’s mother in a series of flashbacks.

Light of My Life is showing at Gateway. - Patrick Compton