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Light from Light (2019)

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Link to our thread on Something, Anything.

Hey A&F...publicist has reached out to me offering a screening link if anyone wants to write up this film either for my site or your own (if you have one). If that interests you, send me a PM and I can forward you the publicist info.


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I really loved this. Between this and Something, Anything, I'm very much on Harrill's wavelength. From my review:


Paul Harrill’s radiant Light from Light dazzles gradually, illuminating our minds and hearts through its quietly affecting aesthetic. In the same vein as 2014’s Something, Anything, Harrill’s beautifully haunting ghost story is interested in exploring the big ideas of metaphysics and human existence within the context of intimate, unassuming character studies. Its ethos is more spiritual than religious, more about wondering about the possibility of the impossible than offering any firm propositional truths. Any revelation is only partial, but even a partial disclosure of transcendence is enough to elicit a frisson of awe.


In this, Light from Light explores the possibility of eternity through its ghost story, albeit without a religious agenda. Of course, Light from Light contains overt references to religion—the priest plays an important supporting role in introducing Sheila to Richard, and both Sheila and Richard admit to having backgrounds in the Christian tradition while presently not attending church. Yet these moments don’t feel gratuitous, nor are they preachy; this is certainly not a “faith-based” film. No, this is the contemporary ghost story I was hoping for with David Lowery’s A Ghost Story (Lowery has a producer credit on Light from Light). Where Lowery’s film felt pretentious and vapid in its consideration of grief, Harrill accomplishes what Lowery was aiming for through his modest, humanistic approach. The subdued musical score—mostly quiet electric guitar strumming or the hum of synth—perfectly complements the images, which are purposefully framed without ever trying to draw attention to itself. Gaffigan is perfectly cast as a big teddy bear of a man with a sensitive spirit. Yet Ireland truly stands out as exemplary here, communicating a great deal of emotion and interiority through her posture and bright, distinct eyes.

Where A Ghost Story was agnostic, Light from Light is anatheistic—the term from philosopher Richard Kearney refers to a belief in God after God, a sort of faith beyond faith, where the metaphysical God of religion and philosophy has died and a new openness to the possibility of God, what Kearney calls “the God who may be.” And so when the miraculous occurs in Light from Light, it’s not through big grandiose voices from heaven or spectacular special effects, but in the modest and mundane and gentle. Yet I felt goosebumps, then tears—I was profoundly moved by the coda of this film in ways I’m still not sure I know how to explain. How do these moving images, these fictional worlds, travel through time and space via a screen and enter into our own imaginations, affecting and even transforming our way of being in the world, all under 90 minutes? Indeed, the experience of a film is inherently temporary—there is a beginning and a conclusion, a fixed ending to the relationship between the film and the viewer. Yet with beautiful, transcendent works of art like Light from Light, this provisional encounter doesn’t mean the relationship is closed or dead. For great works of art have the power to stay with us—to haunt our worlds—and thus to heal us.


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  • 7 months later...

So, I watched this a second time this evening, and I loved it even more. The final scene left me weeping the first time, and I couldn't quite understand why. I went into this rewatch anticipating where the film was headed...and it left me weeping even harder than I had done previously. I mean, when *that scene* happens, I was totally overwhelmed. I'm not entirely sure I can explain how or why this affects me so strongly (which is perhaps true to the film's very themes); I can only to say that Harrill has done something magical here, and I am very much still on his wavelength.

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Joel, I read one of Paul's early drafts of the script and was able to so clearly imagine that scene. It gets me every time I watch it too.

Paul guided me through the process of writing a script treatment and first draft of a feature screenplay, and I think about one of his observations all the time now when I'm watching movies. "Beginnings and endings are usually pretty easy. It's figuring out all of the stuff in the middle that takes so much work." They trimmed the heck out of Light from Light in post-production. One big scene was cut completely, another brief scene was added, and I get the sense it was all about finding the pace that would maximize the effect of those final moments. He's really good at it.

Edited by Darren H
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