LIGHT OF MY LIFE is the love a father (Casey Affleck) has for his daughter, Rag (Anna Pniowsky). When the film opens, the father (with no name) tells the story of Noah’s Ark, his version with foxes who are cunning enough to save the world. The story takes close to 15 minutes to be told, the camera all the while on the two figures lying down, about to sleep. The story is sort of appropriate as it is soon revealed that the world has for some reason never explained cursed with a plague that has removed most of the female population. For again reasons unexplained, Rag survives. It is he father’s duty to protect the daughter’s virginity in as early as in films lie Ingmar Bergman’s THE VIRGIN SPRING. So, the father is living with his daughter in isolation away from possible predators and the rest of the world. In the mean time, the daughter is growing up. Mother (Elisabeth Moss in a largely wasted role) is only shown in flashbacks and with a comical rash not he side of her body signifying ‘disease’.
The premise is nothing new as seen in films like last year’s Debra Granik’s LEAVE NO TRACE where A father and his thirteen year-old daughter are living an ideal existence in a vast urban park in Portland and in John Hillcoat’s 2009 THE ROAD where an ailing father defends his son as they slowly travel to the sea in a dangerous post-apocalyptic world. LIGHT OF MY LIFE fails to reach any of those heights.
It does not help that the script puts in any silly premise without any explanation to propel the father/daughter relationship. Not only is credibility thrown to the wind but it is difficult to care for characters inserted in an unbelievable made-up situation. In the case of LIGHT OF MY LIFE, anything can happen. Strangers can appear out of the blue, as a house that no one dwells in or other probabilities.
LIGHT OF MY LIFE walks the tightrope between intense drama and dystopian sci-fi thriller. The one film that blended the two genres successfully was the Alfonso Cuaraon’s 2006 CHILDREN OF MEN. LIGHT OF MY LIFE misses. One wonders what the purpose is of his effort.
There could be two reasons actor/writer/director Casey Affleck might have made this film about a father protecting his young daughter against male predators in a world largely without females. One is to redeem himself as a female protector after sexual harassment allegations arose against him. The other is that most film producers will not touch actors with such a reputation (prime example Oscar Winner Kevin Spacey) which means that his only chance is to make a movie (Woody Allen has a new movie out, Roman Polanski has continued to make movies). Regardless the reason, LIGHT OF MY LIFE is a terribly boring film that leads nowhere.