Ms. White Light is a new dramedy film written and directed by Paul Shoulberg. The movie follows a misanthropic young woman who runs a small business with her father in which she works to console terminally ill patients. It debuted at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival and played at the 2019 Florida Film Festival.
The premise behind the film is definitely very unique and intriguing. The core story is a coming-of-age tale of sorts, but with a unique spin. Over the course of the movie, the protagonist must come to terms with her more human elements that she represses. One of the most effective tools in this arc is the subplot involving the young girl who becomes the protagonist’s assistant, as it is both humorous and endearing, complementing the tone well.
In terms of character development, the film was mostly strong. The protagonist is definitely very sympathetic, and although her overall arc is rather predictable, her unique personality makes her likable and compelling. The relationships she builds with the other characters, like her father, her patients, and the obligatory love interest go a long way in making her more relatable and nuanced.
A sense of dark humor radiates throughout the script and is a big part of what makes the movie so enjoyable. There are some laugh-out-loud moments in the film, mostly resulting from awkward situations in which the protagonist finds herself. This is excellent comedic relief against the predominantly gloomy tone that the rest of the movie has.
At times, the film does feel a tad manipulative, but for the most part, it hits pretty hard emotionally. It is the “sidekick” storyline that contains most of the beats that feel over-the-top and contrived. The subplots involving the other patients that the protagonist has are very grounded, especially the story involving Val, as this is the main catalyst for the protagonist’s growth.
The actors all do a very good job in their roles, but the lead, Roberta Colindrez, certainly shines the brightest. This is her first lead role and she shows a tremendous amount of talent, having the ability to deliver both the emotional and comedic scenes with ease. She is sure to have a great future as an actress and it will be exciting to see where she goes from here. John Ortiz complements her quite well, delivering one of the strongest performances of his already brilliant career.
On a technical level, the movie is strong, but it is here that the film does show its budget. The cinematography is effective but simple and could have used a little more flash to make the movie more aesthetically interesting. The production design is also relatively straightforward and minimal. However, the exception with this is the office of the characters, which does have a solid amount of detail.
Overall, Ms. White Light was an enjoyable dramedy. The great performances and unique concept make it worth a watch, although if you tend to stray away from films dealing with morbid subject matter, this is one you will likely want to avoid.
Ms. White Light played at the 2019 Florida Film Festival.