A Bit Of Light Image

A Bit Of Light

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | April 8, 2024

NOW IN THEATERS AND ON VOD! Mommy f****d up hard in the bitter high-performance drama A Bit Of Light, directed by Stephen Moyer. Ella (Anna Paquin) is on the precipice of forty and has moved back home with her dad Alan (Ray Winstone). She miserably stays in her childhood room, which is still haunted by unicorns and various shades of pink, drying out from a long alcoholic nightmare. She tells Alan she is going to A.A. meetings during the day, but she really just sits in the park where she used to bring her kids before they were taken away from her.

She hopes to see her girls again, but her ex-husband Joseph (Youssef Kerour) and his new partner Bethan (Pippa Bennett-Warner) are worried Ella is going to ruin the children’s recovery from the trauma they endured with her drinking. While staring at other women’s kids playing and trying to stay sober, a 13-year-old boy named Neil (Luca Hogan) sits down and starts talking to her. Neil asks all sorts of questions Ella isn’t ready to answer yet, though he is just as elusive as her questions about his home life. But after a few meetings with this remarkable young man, Ella strikes up a friendship which Alan finds disturbing and suspicious…

Generally, the adage that you sleep in the bed you make is true in life. Sometimes there are people who s**t their bed and still have to sleep in it. Sometimes the only way to get the s**t off the bed is to roll around in it as hard as you can until it is all off the bed because it is stuck on you. This usually happens naturally from those pesky seizures while getting off the sauce. I got to find that out back when film school in Toledo fell apart due to years in a perpetual scotch bath. So I definitely appreciate the grisly emotional accuracy of the script by Rebecca Callard, which she adapted from her award winning stage play.

“…she really just sits in the park where she used to bring her kids before they were taken away from her.”

One of the hardest things about recovery is facing the wreckage that happened because you were hammered. The director, Moyer, must be commended for making a movie exploring these raw depths while not letting the perpetrator off the hook. He is able to break the claustrophobic conversational confines of the stage play skeleton with his secret weapon: cinematographer Peter Allibone. Allibone is a master of composition. I was floored shot after shot by the complexity and beauty of the visual choices. I could turn the sound off and still be hypnotized because, without context, the power of the frame abstracts starts geysering.

The performances are of the highest caliber, as one would expect, considering the pedigree. Paquin waltzes with self-deception and realization with an authority that few others could muster. Winstone does what he is the best at, which is why he is the one and only. The surprise acting juggernaut here is Hogan, who is completely smashing as the mysterious Neil. Hogan brings electricity onscreen, which hums in the air even in his absence. His strength in the role, unfortunately, spotlights the core weakness of the script, which is the ambiguity of whether Neil is a ghost or not.

Much of the movie is spent returning to clues that he is a spirit, like that he doesn’t feel the cold when he is without a jacket. Much of this speculation stems from the character acting just like a guardian angel to Ella, being exactly what she needs right when she needs it. Neil is a highly unrealistic element in what is a very realistic proceeding, to the point we expect him to sprout wings and take off. So, while it has some major foundation flaws that go back to the source material, A Bit Of Light still remains heavy enough to leave a lasting impression.

A Bit Of Light (2024)

Directed: Stephen Moyer

Written: Rebecca Callard

Starring: Anna Paquin, Ray Winstone, Luca Hogan, Youssef Kerour, Pippa Bennett-Warner, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

A Bit Of Light Image

"…brings an electricity onscreen which hums in the air"

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