Light of My Life, written, directed by, and starring Casey Affleck, is a new post-apocalyptic drama about the lengths a father will go to in order to protect his child. A very good slow-burn drama, this film proves that Affleck is almost as talented behind the camera as he is in front of it.
The movie is about a man and his daughter who must attempt to survive after a virus has wiped out most of the female population of the Earth. Although post-apocalyptic narratives like this are nothing new, Affleck approaches it in a way that is much more nuanced and rooted in emotion than most other films like this.
This is very much a slow burn, featuring some long, dialogue-driven takes. These scenes are likely the most effective in the movie, particularly those in which the protagonist tells his daughter a bedtime story. Although the intensity and pacing of the film do ramp up towards the end, the height of the movie’s effectiveness comes early on as we are being introduced to the characters.
The religious allusions that Affleck uses, while obvious, do a nice job of relaying the themes of the film. For example, the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark plays a big role in one scene. Apart from the obvious apocalyptic connection, this story fits in with the greater context of the movie as a whole because of the thread of hope and survival that radiates throughout the story.
Affleck also does an excellent job of developing his characters in a way that is extremely compelling. It is definitely very easy to get behind the protagonist and his desire to protect his daughter. Protecting loved ones is one of the most basic motivations for characters because it is one to which audiences can immediately connect.
Another part of what makes the film so resonant is the performances. Affleck does a wonderful job in his lead role, giving what is one of the best turns of his career. In a pre-allegation time with a more substantial theatrical release, this could have given him another acting nomination. The child actress Anna Pniowsky is great too, delivering a complex and emotion-packed performance.
On a technical level, the movie is very strong, but definitely subdued given the post-apocalyptic nature of the film. Rather than focusing on the carnage, Affleck focuses on the effects it has on the two main characters. The cinematography by Adam Arkapaw is great, with a majority of the shots being close in order to maximize the emotional impact the movie has.
Light of My Life is an impressive sophomore effort from actor-turned-filmmaker Casey Affleck. Because of an emotional story and great performances, this is a film you should definitely check out. Despite its imperfections, it’s a satisfying watch.
Light of My Life hits theaters and VOD on August 9.