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Review: Light Of My Life – “Do not miss this film”

There’s no doubt for me that Casey Affleck’s personal life has tainted what is turning out to be a truly phenomenal acting career.

When he went on a run after the impeccable THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, that included GONE BABY GONE, and then immediately, THE KILLER INSIDE ME, you knew he was a special talent. Dark choices in terms of content, as well as an almost arrogant way of letting a scene play out, just a tiny bit longer than usual/necessary.

When he then did I’M STILL HERE (the funniest film I’d seen since FIGHT CLUB, or AMERICAN PYSCHO), my jaw hit the flaw. I felt like I was the only one in on that joke, and now, several years later, hope people re-discover it for the masterwork it is.

He showed an ability to direct and linger, much like he had in his breakout acting roles.

Give him a scandal and an Oscar, and he seemingly disappears for a while. Except he doesn’t. He makes two masterworks with David Lowery that will be looked back on in years. The latter, THE OLD MAN & THE GUN, very much a love letter to Robert Redford and classic, slow-burning, character-driven movies of old.

Which, (flipping finally), leads us to LIGHT OF MY LIFE — which is currently in US cinemas, and available on USiTunes.

Now, let’s be clear. Casey Affleck will have his reasons for making a film about a post-pandemic world where his daughter is one of the few remaining women left alive.

I haven’t done any digging on to the extras to see whether it was a cathartic choice — or more sinisterly, a finger up to the scandal that fell his way, on what could’ve been his crowning moment, placing him right up there alongside Leo, as Hollywood elite.

Regardless, this film is another masterpiece.

Starting with a 10-minute dialogue scene between himself and his daughter (who, to avoid unwanted attention, pretends to be a boy). Those long takes. Pauses. Uncomfortable silences. Seemingly adhoced lines. They’re all here. And a point is made. Even in telling a tale of a female fox (whose clearly meant to be his daughter), he can’t not make the story Male-centric. And the daughter calls him out on it. And you know immediately you’re in for a challenging film. One that deserves full attention.

Comparisons with THE ROAD are easy. LEAVE NO TRACE, too. But what company to keep.

And what Affleck does here, in creating a brilliant character piece, that in truth, would be a great play, is startling. The confidence on show is impressive and you can’t help but applaud.

When it reached its final 20 minutes, I don’t think I’ve ever held my breath longer. Even when I pretend to, through the Hindhead tunnel. Nails bitten, curled up — ironically feature like — I almost had to pause it, and take a walk.

This is a towering achievement and an unexpected entry into my Top Five of the year. Marty and Tarantino might be in trouble once I’ve delved further.

A contentious and divisive person? Almost certainly. One of the most talented people in Hollywood? Unequivocally.

As a Dad, who would do anything for his kids – whilst also being scared of them growing up, I can totally see what Affleck is trying to say here.

Do not miss this film.

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