From actor Casey Affleck comes Light of My Life—a film, he wrote, directed, and starred. It’s a simple movie with a simple, yet powerful idea behind it. On the outset, it may feel a lot like an episode of The Walking Dead…substituting zombies for a global plague. This is the story of Dad (Casey Affleck) and his daughter, Rag (Anna Pniowsky) and it challenges the patriarchal role of men as the protector and provider forcing Dad to empower his daughter to take responsibility for her own survival.
The world as we know it has been hit by a plague that killed half the population (for the third time this year). As it stands, the survivors are mostly men and women are a scarcity. Dad has Rag cut her hair short and dress like a boy. Frankly, women are a commodity to be stolen, kidnapped, and collected (see One Child Nation) and Dad vows not to keep Rag out of harm’s way to the point of being over-protective. Can you blame him?
Light of My Life sees the world through the eyes of Dad and Rag. They are in every scene, and audiences are only allowed to observe and experience what these two characters are going through. Much of their time is spent finding isolated locations to camp in the woods, locating and bartering for supplies, and not attract any suspicion upon themselves that Rag is really a girl.
“Dad has Rag cut her hair short and dress like a boy.”
Thematically, the movie is about family in extreme circumstances. First, there’s dad running himself to the point of exhaustion. At one point, the two find an abandoned house. They know it’s not safe, but it’s much-needed shelter from the cold. Dad goes through the house looking for supplies, creating hiding spaces for themselves and their camping gear, just in case they need to escape quickly. And guess what…?
Second, the film is about parenting. Rag was a toddler when Mom (Elizabeth Moss) died from the plague. Dad has been playing the role as single father. There’s a hilarious scene when Dad teaches Rag about periods, racism, and sex in a single setting. As Rag grows older, she begins to wonder if how much longer Dad can assume the role of protector.