Chicago Critics Film Festival 2019: Light From Light
By Andrea Thompson
Some films are not for everyone. “Light From Light” certainly isn't. Audiences for such films are usually united by their taste for blood, gore, or other genre staples, but the common trait for this one will be patience.
“Light From Light” may revolve around a possible haunting, but it's something of an anti-ghost movie. And main character Sheila (Marin Ireland), is a far cry from other women who supposedly have a hotline to the supernatural. Unlike the moneyed world in “Personal Shopper,” or the dependably creepy environment in “The Conjuring,” Sheila works part-time at a car rental company in Tennessee and is even unsure about the existence of ghosts. After she had a series of strange dreams as a child that were seen as prophetic, the role of medium was essentially thrust upon her, and she's still struggling with it.
There is also no southern gothic romance, even if love and the resulting ache it can cause is a major theme. Sheila is a single mother who begins to form a more personal bond with Richard (Jim Gaffigan), a widower who believes his deceased wife is haunting his home. She's clearly passed on her fears about relationships to her son, who can't even bring himself to ask a girl to a dance, or even decide whether to head to college. She is also skilled at her job, and the movie takes a quiet pleasure in dangling the usual bait, such as a cell phone that's almost out of power, a walk through a empty, possibly haunted house at night, only to just as quietly continue on its contemplative meditations on loss and closure. The ending that feels like a much-deserved reward, even if it puts an end to the doubt the movie made a point of leaving room for. Everything may end, but at least “Light From Light” is able to embrace the value of connection in the meantime.