Light From Light is the typical Sundance mopey drama. Some of them are still quite moving, and others just meander and revel in misery but we still celebrate them. Indie filmmakers have feelings to work out and they let us in on them for 90 minutes or so. Light From Light is one of those. I believe all involved really mean it, but it’s a long 80 minutes so I really hope it helped them work through whatever they needed it to.
Shelia Garvin (Marin Ireland) is a paranormal investigator recently let go from her team. She takes the case of Richard Barnes (Jim Gaffigan) who thinks his late wife might be making the lights flicker to send him a message. She does paranormal work for free and works a rental car counter for money.
Conversations between Shelia and Richard take inordinately long. I get that it’s difficult for him to talk about the circumstances of his wife’s death, but we see where this is going in about 30 seconds. He goes on at least three minutes. Likewise when Shelia talks about her first paranormal encounter. A car ride conversation between Shelia, her son Owen (Josh Wiggins) and Owen’s friend Lucy (Atheena Frizzell) explains how she got into ghost hunting.
For a paranormal movie, Shelia and Richard spend a lot of time talking on the porch. They’re getting to know each other but they just sit there for so long, talking so slowly. When a kid gets stung by a wasp it’s the biggest event of the night. It’s a relief to get a break from the porch talk. It’s a fairly random event with few consequences but it’s a relief.
Both Ireland and Gaffigan’s performances are so understated it’s like an exercise in minimalism. I give them credit that it’s intentional. I fully support comedians doing drama. I don’t know how many Robin Williams, Tom Hanks or Jim Carreys it takes to convince audiences they can do both. I question the directorial choice to have every performance in the same tone.
I appreciate the film’s view on the supernatural. It allows for both rational and supernatural explanations. It’s not the kind of movie that’ll explode out of Sundance, and it wasn’t for me, but it’ll be found by the people it’s meant for.