Film Review: INTO INVISIBLE LIGHT (Canada 2017) ***

Into Invisible Light Poster
After her husband dies, a woman reconnects with an old boyfriend who is now married.


Shelagh Carter

Everything spells art movie in the new and third feature by Winnipeg director Shelagh Carter.  It is also a strong feminine film with all the film creators, writer, director protagonist all being female.  Not that all these elements spell a good thing, but they do not necessary spell a bad thing either.

The film begins with image of a performance – a piece that expresses some torment.  The film returns to his scene and it is clear that the dance bookends the film.  What occurs in between revisits the situation of this dance.  The dancer happens to be the daughter of the main protagonist, Helena Grayson (Jennifer Dale) who has a problem to sort out with not only her daughter but with others as well .

For one thing the film’s title is ambiguous and demands some thought.  Is light invisible or is that not possible at all?  And what happens when one veers into invisible light?  And what does it all mean?  And is this a metaphor?  If all this sounds a bit too much to take in, the film actually is quite interesting.

There are segments in the darken interior of a house where a figure lingers.  The wind blows the curtains and haunting music is heard on the piano.  If the close captioning in seen, as I had it on when watching the streaming screening link, the title ‘thoughtful music ‘ is seen at the bottom of the screen as what is heard appears to be true to the titles.  There is also playful music to be heard later on in the film.

And if all this sounds amusing, it actually is.  And quite funny too.  Director Carter and lead actress Jennifer Dale (both these ladies wrote the script) have a sense of humour.  The total artistic atmosphere which suits the theme of the film plays well together.  The film is a jigsaw puzzle of life as Helena Grayson (Dale) tries to fit her life pieces made up of dreams, desires hope and despair, together while falling in love along the way.

The story concerns Helena.  Her husband, who she apparently married but not love has passed away.  Helena is given a huge artistic endowment by her late husband that she feels unworthy to fulfill.  She feels unqualified to walk in her husband’s footsteps.  Her enforced engagement with art, sculpture, dance, writing, picking and choosing the candidates for consideration, brings up old ambitions, and memories of her own writing, done long ago before marriage and its complications seemingly obliterated all that. She had thought she “put away childish things”. Michael (Peter Keleghan) teaches literature at a local university, and is married to a woman who protects her independence ferociously, going off on hiking trips for weeks on end.  Michael and Helena rekindle their relationship that they had broken up in the past.

One problem with the film is the prejudiced script that treats the female as always right and the man otherwise.  In all the arguments that Helena and Michale have in the film, she has the right things to say.  Michael is always in the wrong and constantly apologizing.  The script also treats Helena as the perfect person, intellectually and physically.  One look at her makes it clear to the audience that the actress is past her prime and the script, partly written by her, serves as an ego trip.

Still, INTO INVISIBLE LIGHT, well directed and acted. is entertaining in its own way with impressive production value.  The film works when it is less self-conscious and less pretentious abuts subject matter.