Academy Award® winner* Casey Affleck writes, directs and the survivalist thriller LIGHT OF MY LIFE, which arrives on Blu-ray and DVD October 8, 2019 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Here is my review of the blu-ray:A decade after a plague has wiped out nearly all of the world’s female population, a father (Casey Affleck) and daughter (Anna Pniowsky) live on the outskirts of what’s left of civilization 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, their bond and the character of humanity is tested.
Casey Affleck’s latest directorial effort is a bleak and well written post-apocalyptic thriller that acts as a spiritual successor of sorts to Children of Men. In the future, most human females have died off so Affleck wanders the woods protecting his miracle daughter from the constant threat of other male survivors. The world has fallen apart and there is seemingly no safe place left for Affleck’s character and his growing daughter to live. If the world still didn’t hate Casey Affleck ever since he was Me-Too’d into obscurity following his Best Actor Oscar a couple years ago, then Light of My Life would likely be another Oscar contender but instead it’s now hitting Blu-ray and most people probably have no idea it even exists. That’s a damn shame.
Light of My Life isn’t for the impatient however, as the film is a constant slow burn for much of its 2-hour runtime. The movie also opens with a 10+ minute dialog scene where Affleck tells his daughter a story about Noah’s Ark (well – his own version of it anyway). If you find yourself annoyed right off the bat, then you’ll likely be gritting your teeth for the rest of the movie waiting for something to happen. There is not a lot of action to be found here, but the suspense is palpable and I found myself in a constant state of unease. Affleck is constantly preparing for the worst-case scenario, going over escape routes, plans and setting up his various camping sites so that he and his daughter always have both a plan A and B. In lesser filmmakers’ hands these drawn-out sequences could be a chore to get through, but Affleck always manages to make the film engaging with clever camera angles, his brilliant performance and because he hired one helluva great actress in Anna Pniowsky. She’s going to be a star – mark my words.
Considering how 80% of the film relies on Affleck and Pniowsky’s characters, thank god both actors are delivering incredible performances at all times. This isn’t The Walking Dead – there aren’t slo-mo action kills and although there is violence on the horizon for Light of My Life, it isn’t entertaining so much as it is frightening and uncomfortably realistic. When people wrestle around and smack each other with hammers in the head, it doesn’t feel like I’m watching The Raid – it feels like I’m watching a horror movie or worse yet, some sort of found footage from the most depressing future ever. The final 20 minutes of this film are REALLY intense.
There are some flashbacks which add to the gut-wrenching emotional warfare that the film is constantly inflicting on any viewers who also happen to be parents – and they include actress Elisabeth Moss. I would have liked a few more of these actually, but they did help break up the current day struggles of father and daughter walking through the woods from one dangerous location to the next. I’m a sucker for a good post-apocalyptic thriller though and Light of My Life is among the best in terms of acting and writing – in fact I’d say this film is stronger than The Road (which was an Oscar contender a few years back). I don’t know if everyone will appreciate the slower pace and I do think the film could have used more than one action set-piece, but these are all fairly minor gripes considering how strong the final product is anyway. Casey Affleck shouldn’t be an outcast to Hollywood guys – let the guy back in so great movies like this don’t pass us by.
Note – There are no special features on the Blu-ray/DVD – but you will get a digital copy with the Blu-ray package.
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