The genre of desolate contagion you could say "Light of My Life" descends from began 50 years ago, with "Night of the Living Dead," but in recent times filmmakers have been doing ever more abstract variations on it — like, for instance, "It Comes at Night" (2017), a fatal-infection thriller that basically came down to the members of a family struggling to stay alive in their remote cabin. While that film had some genre trickery, "Light of My Life" takes the ultimate minimal approach to survivalist tension: It’s just a father and daughter, wandering from the woods to an abandoned farmhouse, escaping back into the wilderness, then on to another home (this one occupied by three men who’ve been living there for four years and somehow have food to spare). The history of what’s happened is summed up in a couple of throwaway shots of newspaper headlines, plus a vague anecdote about an encampment where women survivors are housed in a bunker.
In theory, it's a dystopian family-fights-to-survive-in-the-midst-of-oblivion saga, with hints of the sci-fi apocalypse, like "The Road" or "A Quiet Place." But Affleck has taken this familiar form and carved it down to the barest of bones. So it makes sense that "Light of My Life," the first movie Casey Affleck has written and directed, is cut from the same consciously meandering, slow-burn indie-art-house cloth.
Affleck and Pniowsky get a tender, heartfelt, but rather passive rapport going. But there’s never much conflict between them. They’ve got each other’s backs, which is fine, but that robs the movie of its key potential source of tension. None of the other characters the two run into are particularly well-developed, though the veteran actor Tom Bower, as a Bible thumper who has lost everything he cares about, has presence. He lectures her (a lot), and she’s not afraid to tweak him back.
Unfortunately, as conceived, that isn't quite enough to sustain a dawdling two-hour movie. "Light of My Life" is like a horror film that refuses to be a horror film, or even a genre film, because it’s got purer things on its mind: the unshakable bond between father and daughter, and the way the hell they’re in strengthens and deepens that connection. Scene for scene, Affleck does a decent job of directing — his touch is soft, intimate, humane — but he has saddled himself with a script that isn’t entirely there.
So, in a more sweeping way, did "Manchester by the Sea" (2016), the brilliantly tragic and lacerating drama that gave Affleck his finest role and won him the Academy Award. That mode probably kicked in for him when he gave his first astounding and widely acclaimed performance, in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (2007), an art Western that was gripping, at least to some of us, even though it took two hours and 40 minutes to come to a full boil. Casey Affleck has appeared in a vast range of movies, but when it comes to the work that defines him as an actor he has long demonstrated a certain penchant for slow-cooked artisanal cinema — for films that revel in their high-mindedness and move at a snail’s pace to prove it. I can't say that I was a fan of "Ain’t Them Bodies Saints," the outlaw-on-the-run domestic badlands drama that starred Affleck in 2013, but that film, too, had a heady aura of deliberation.
(Rag was born at the epidemic’s outset.) The reason for that is that the two are in the middle of a deadly global plague, one that attacks only women, the majority of whom have apparently died off. Shot in the Okanaga Valley region of British Columbia, a woodland countryside with the sustained mood of a stark gray late afternoon, "Light of My Life" is about a father, who is never named, played by Affleck, and his daughter, nicknamed Rag (Anna Pniowsky), who’s about 12 years old and has a short and thatchy boy’s haircut, because she’s pretending to be his son.
The result, however, is a scene that’s beguiling yet rudderless. You may feel as if you’re drawn, emotionally, to the characters yet are already squirming a bit at the film’s real-time indulgence. As Affleck unspools a bedtime story, we have ample chance to observe that it sounds just like the sort of awkward, homespun, made-up-on-the-spot parental whimsy a father tends to improvise — in this case, a fractured-fairy-tale version of Noah’s Ark that includes coded bits and pieces of the father's own life story. The film opens with a 15-minute-long uncut overhead shot of Affleck and newcomer Anna Pniowsky facing each other in their sleeping bags.
We see a shot of her inspecting the telltale rash on her torso, and except for one other brief scene with two skeletal corpses who’ve been dead for years, that’s as graphic (and specific) as the film gets about its premise. "Light of My Life" has an off-the-grid grim cachet, à la "Leave No Trace." Rag’s mother, played in flashback by Elizabeth Moss, fell victim to the plague.
And though it didn’t scuttle his awards triumph, the karma of those accusations lingered. It seems to belong on a different film (a biopic of Debby Boone?), but it’s meant to testify to the devotion this father feels toward his daughter. But you have to wonder if there’s an element of spin to that. Around the time he was up for the Oscar, Affleck got raked over the coals for his own alleged misdeeds with women. It's the "Handmaid’s Tale" of pandemics.” /> There’s a reason, I think, why there’s so little of impactful dramatic value going on in "Light of My Life." The title is a clue. For a guy who often plays moody misfits, Affleck has crafted "Light of My Life" as the story of a gruffly protective saint. If Casey Affleck does nothing else in this movie, he’s showing off his knightly valor, his capacity for empathy, his drive to understand and defend the female in his care. At the same time, the whole fantasy of a fatal disease that attacks only women plays, at moments, like a borderline punitive comment on that very topic.

"And no one was really making too much of a fuss about it, myself included, until a few women with the kind of courage and wisdom to stand up and say, 'You know what? "But I think bigger picture, in this business, women have been underrepresented and underpaid and objectified and diminished and humiliated and belittled in a bazillion ways and just generally had a mountain of grief thrown at them forever," he added. Enough is enough.'"
Affleck reflected on the accusations made on the film's set, in light of the Me Too and Time's Up movements. Two women involved in the production filed two sexual harassment suits against Affleck eight years ago. Controversy surrounding the suits, settled in 2010, resurfaced during his Oscar campaign for "Manchester by the Sea" in 2016.
"I kind of moved from a place of being defensive to one of a more mature point of view, trying to find my own culpability. Affleck, who is promoting his upcoming film "The Old Man & the Gun" — directed by David Lowery and co-starring Robert Redford — said he's learned from the cultural conversation over the past couple of years. And once I did that, I discovered there was a lot to learn."
"I think it was the right thing to do just given everything that was going on in our culture at the moment," he said about breaking Academy Award tradition. "And having two incredible women go present the best actress award felt like the right thing."
He continued: "And I didn't agree with everything, the way I was being described, and the things that were said about me, but I wanted to try to make it right. And we all agreed to just try to put it behind us and move on with our lives, which I think we deserve to do, and I want to respect them as they've respected me and my privacy. So, we made it right in the way that was asked at the time. And that's that."
He also said he's learned to "keep my mouth shut."
And I'm sorry." In an interview with the Associated Press, Affleck admitted to contributing to an unprofessional environment on the set of "I'm Still Here," which was shot in 2008 and 2009. "I tolerated that kind of behavior from other people and I wish that I hadn't. I don't even know if I thought of myself as the boss. But I behaved in a way and allowed others to behave in a way that was really unprofessional. "I really did not know what I was responsible for as the boss. And I regret a lot of that," Affleck, who directed, produced, and co-wrote the film, said.
Affleck addressed his decision to step back from presenting the best actress Oscar this year, despite his best actor win in 2017 for "Manchester by the Sea."
"And we do that at our production company and I try to do it at home, and if I'm ever called upon by anyone to help in any way and contribute, I'd be more than happy to."” /> "And I know just enough to know that in general I need to keep my mouth shut and listen and try to figure out what's going on and be a supporter and a follower in the little, teeny tiny ways that I can," Affleck said.
"She's been way ahead of the curve on all these issues," he said. Now running his own production company, Sea Change Media, with Whitaker Lader, Affleck added that Lader has helped him create a safe work environment.
Casey Affleck is apologizing for his "unprofessional" actions following sexual harassment allegations waged against him in 2010.
"I wish I had found a way to resolve things in a different way. I hate that. "First of all, that I was ever involved in a conflict that resulted in a lawsuit is something that I really regret," he said. I had never had any complaints like that made about me before in my life and it was really embarrassing and I didn't know how to handle it."