New Film Explores Parent-child Bond In A Post-pandemic World

The timeless story of a parent dedicated to a child above all else is one everyone can relate to. Set in a post-pandemic, dystopian landscape following a plague that killed nearly all the world’s females, director Casey Affleck’s LIGHT OF MY LIFE is a narrative feature film based on the Oscar-winning actor’s own script, which mixes a survivalist drama with a coming-of-age story.

Explaining the rationale behind the film, Affleck says: “This is a very personal movie for me. I began writing this story a decade ago. As my children aged, the experience of being a parent changed. The story I was telling changed. After going through a divorce, the story took its final shape. Despite all the science fiction, this is a story about being a single parent grieving the loss of a nuclear family.”

The film takes place in a spookily deserted landscape, where a father and daughter, in an attempt to survive, live in a tent and forage for rations in the woods. Keeping to themselves, the loving character Dad (Affleck) teaches his 11-year-old daughter, who is somehow immune to the ‘female plague’, about ethics, history, morality, and how to live off the land.

But a chance encounter threatens the precautions he has set up, risking the refuge he has created. In a world now populated only by men, he tries desperately to protect his daughter Rag (newcomer Anna Pniowsky), while honouring and empowering the young woman she is becoming and reminding her of how much her mother (played in short flashbacks by Elisabeth Moss) adored her.

For her safety, and because it’s impossible to tell the good men from the bad, Dad has chopped off Rag’s hair and dressed her in boy’s clothing, passing her off as his son and staying largely away from towns and what’s left of population centres.

The relationship between father and daughter is the beating heart of LIGHT OF MY LIFE and the chemistry between Affleck and Pniowsky is best sampled through their father-daughter exchanges, particularly as they talk in their weathered orange tent at night. The interior of the tent, lit by small lamps, accentuate the intimacy and rapport they have.

These scenes punctuate LIGHT OF MY LIFE, highlighting what’s most important to these characters – the parent-child bond and the sense of security they’ve created. There is genuine affection and empathy for and between father and daughter, and a shared love for stories about the world as it was and as they’d like it to be.

A wonderfully understated performer, Affleck does excellent work. Talking about his performance, he says one of the keys to figuring out who Dad was within the story was making sure the connection between parent and child felt real to him as a parent of two kids.

“Strangely, the first thing I wanted to find was a believable dynamic of parental irritation, because it’s an expression of love that, in a way, is less obvious. Sometimes, when your kid is doing something dangerous, you’re worried about them, so your love is in a different gear. There are a few moments in the film when Dad loses his temper with Rag, and I wanted those scenes to be right, so it’s understood that these two people love and care about each other in a realistic way.

“Some of the other keys were trying to balance two sides of the character. Dad is confident that he is totally capable of taking care of Rag, protecting her, raising her, fending for the two of them, but also has a deep feeling of loneliness and panic in him. To be able to put all of that into the same character in the same scene was interesting.”

He also has a minimalist approach behind the camera, which is supported by cinematographer Adam Arkapaw, who manages to compose a series of shots that make even the bleakest locations seem somehow beautiful. His colour palette of greys, pale whites and browns is controlled, and the landscapes vibrate with menace, in stark contrast to their beauty. Daniel Hart’s score is melancholy and ominous. Together, all these elements ensure that there is a quiet sense of grace and humanity that shines through in LIGHT OF MY LIFE.

Just as the father finds it nearly impossible to explain the world to his daughter, the film resists explaining everything to its audience. As humanity is collapsing, the shadow of real-life anxiety grows, and the film taps into the primal fears of people, particularly parents, everywhere.

“I wish I could take credit for wanting to comment on things or depicting a world that parallels, in some ways, the point we’re at now. In truth, I didn’t have any social commentary in mind when I was making it,” says Affleck. “But one reason I love the arts is it’s a way of talking about our world in a not-so-literal way; those things may have found their way into the movie, but what I was making was a story about learning to find a balance between both keeping the world out and letting the world in, keeping your kids protected and letting them go, protecting them while preparing them to protect themselves.”

LIGHT OF MY LIFE is, at its heart, a portrait of a father and his daughter, and what he will do in order to keep her safe. It is a beautiful dramatic thriller that is an observation on parental love in broken times and the instability of society, and a compelling parable of letting go.

LIGHT OF MY LIFE is distributed by Filmfinity (Pty) Ltd. and will be released in South African cinemas on 18 October 2019.


Die tydlose verhaal van ’n ouer, wat heeltemal toegewy is aan ’n kind, is een waarmee almal kan vereenselwig. Regisseur, Casey Affleck, se LIGHT OF MY LIFE, is ’n narratiewe rolprent wat afspeel in tydperk nadat ’n plaag amper almal in die wêreld uitgewis het. Dit is gebaseer op die Oscar-bekroonde akteur se eie draaiboek, wat drama vermeng met die storie van ’n kind en ouer se reis na genesing.

Affleck verduidelik die betekenis agter die fliek as volg: “Dit is ’n baie persoonlike film vir my. Ek het hierdie verhaal ’n dekade gelede begin skryf. Soos wat my kinders ouer geword het, het my ervaring van ouer wees ook verander. Die storie wat ek vertel het, het verander. Na ’n egskeiding het die verhaal sy finale vorm aangeneem. Buiten vir al die wetenskapfiksie, is hierdie ’n storie van ’n enkelouer wat treur oor die verlies van ’n kernfamilie.”

Die film speel af op ’n spoggerige, verlate landskap, waar ’n pa en dogter in ’n tent woon en in die woud kos moet soek om te oorleef. Om hulle veilig te probeer hou, vermy die liefdevolle pa (Affleck) kontak met ander mense en leer hy sy 11-jarige dogter, wat op een of ander manier immuun is teen die ‘vroulike plaag’, oor etiek, geskiedenis, moraliteit en hoe om van die land af te leef.

Maar ’n toevallige ontmoeting bedreig dié voorsorgmaatreëls wat hy opgestel het, en plaas die toevlug wat hy geskep het, in gevaar. In ’n wêreld wat nou net deur mans bevolk is, probeer hy desperaat om sy dogter Rag (nuweling Anna Pniowsky) te beskerm, terwyl hy terselfdertyd probeer om die jong vrou wat sy word, te eer en te bemagtig. Hy word ook deur middel van terugflitse daaraan herinner hoe versot haar ma (Elisabeth Moss) op haar was.

Ter wille van haar veiligheid, en omdat dit onmoontlik is om tussen goeie en slegte mans te onderskei, sny hy haar hare af en moet sy mansklere dra en vermy hulle dorpe en stede sover as wat hulle kan.

Die verhouding tussen pa en dogter is die hartklop van LIGHT OF MY LIFE en die besonderse band tussen Affleck en Pniowsky word veral weerspieël deur die tonele wanneer hulle alleen is en in die aand in hulle oranje tent gesels. Die binnekant van die tent, wat verlig word met klein lampies, beklemtoon die intimiteit en verhouding wat hulle het. Daar is opregte toegeneentheid en empatie vir mekaar, en ’n gedeelde liefde vir verhale oor die wêreld soos dit was en soos wat hulle dit graag wil hê.

Affleck vertolk sy rol uitstekend. As jy hom oor sy toneelspel uitvra, verklap hy dat dit baie belangrik was dat hy die opregte band tussen ouer en kind moes voel, ten einde sy karakter met oortuiging te kon vertolk.

“Die eerste aspek wat ek wou vind, was die geloofwaardige dinamiek van die ouerskapsituasie, want dit is nie ’n liefdesverhouding wat voor-die-handliggend is nie. Wanneer jou kind iets gevaarlik doen, is jy bekommerd oor hulle en daarom is jou liefde op daardie oomblik in ’n ander fase. Daar is ’n paar oomblikke in die film wanneer die pa sy humeur verloor met sy dogter, en ek wou hê dat die tonele reg moes wees, sodat dit die boodskap duidelik kon oordra dat hierdie twee mense op ’n realistiese manier vir mekaar omgee,” sê hy.

“Dit was ook belangrik om beide kante van my karakter te balanseer. Aan die een kant, is Pa vol selfvertroue dat hy in staat is om vir Rag te sorg, haar te beskerm en haar groot te maak. Hy is egter ook eensaam en voel baie keer paniekerig. Om alles in een karakter te verweef op die grootskerm, was baie interessant.”

Hy het ook ’n minimalistiese benadering agter die kamera, wat ondersteun word deur die kinematograaf, Adam Arkapaw, wat daarin slaag om ’n reeks skote te verfilm wat selfs die slegste omstandighede op die een of ander manier mooi te laat lyk. Sy kleurpalet van grys, wit en bruin word beheer, en die landskappe vibreer van dreigement, in skrille kontras met hulle skoonheid. Daniel Hart se musiek is hartseer en onheilspellend. Saam verseker al hierdie elemente dat daar ’n rustige gevoel van genade en menslikheid is wat deurskyn in LIGHT OF MY LIFE.

Net soos wat die pa dit bykans onmoontlik vind om die wêreld aan sy dogter te verklaar, kan die fliek ook nie heeltemal alles aan die kyker verduidelik nie. Namate die mensdom besig is om in duie te stort, groei die skaduwee van angs in die werklike lewe, en die rolprent werk die ergste vrese van mense, veral ouers, oral in.

“Ek wens dat ek die krediet daarvoor kon neem dat dit my bedoeling was om kommentaar te lewer op die situasie in die wêreld, maar eintlik was dit glad nie die idee toe ek die rolprent gemaak het nie,” sê Affleck. “Dit is egter een van die redes hoekom en so baie van die kunste hou, omdat dit ons in staat stel om op ’n indirekte manier wel sekere kwessies aan te spreek. Alhoewel hierdie dinge hulle weg in die fliek in gevind het, wou ek ’n storie skep daaroor om balans te vind tussen om die wêreld uit te hou en die wêreld in te laat, jou kinders te beskerm en hulle te laat gaan, en hulle te beskerm terwyl hulle voorberei om hulself te beskerm.”

LIGHT OF MY LIFE is in sy kern ’n portret van ’n pa en sy dogter en wat hy sal doen om haar veilig te hou. Dit is ’n pragtige dramatiese riller, wat kommentaar lewer oor ouerliefde in gebroke tye en die onstabiliteit van die samelewing. Dit dra ook die aangrypende boodskap dat jy die een of ander tyd moet laat gaan.

LIGHT OF MY LIFE word versprei deur Filmfinity (Edms) Bpk. en sal by plaaslike bioskope begin draai op 18 Oktober 2019.

Published by Andrew Germishuys

Founder of SAMDB, Andrew has worked full time in the film industry since the early 2000's. He has trained as an actor, completing his LAMDA Gold Medal, and attending many courses in Cape Town acting studios, with masterclasses with some of the international industries top directors, producers and filmmakers. Working as an actor and armourer in the film and television industry have given Andrew a great balance of skills across the board when it comes to the entertainment industry. Catch him on Twitter: twitter.com/andrewgerm_za And IMDb: www.imdb.com/name/nm5390453/

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