I have come to enjoy the mumblecore films of Joe Swanberg. He has been able to develop several strong character dramas on microscopic budgets and semi-improvised dialogue, and they have been able to provide interesting journeys for characters as they face their own inner turmoil, due to one reason of another.
All the Light in the Sky focuses on Marie, an aging actress who is forced to come to terms with her getting older when she is visited at her beach house by her much younger niece, who also has aspirations of being an actress.
The film stars Jane Adams, who also co-wrote the movie, in the role of Marie. She is very likable in the film, shows a natural connection to the role of the actress who never quite reached the dizzying heights of fame, but was able to make a solid living off her craft, and is now faced with the idea that potential roles are drying up for her, as she heads over the wrong side of 40, in Hollywood’s views. Adams is subdued throughout the film, taking on her problems with introspective activities that calm her, such as her morning venture into the water for stand up paddle boarding. She seems to be at peace with her life, but the cracks begin to show with her views on her changing body, and her lack of love in her life.
With the arrival of her 25-year-old niece Nica (played very well by Sophia Takal, providing one of the best performances of the film- she definitely is reminiscent of another Swanberg favourite, Anna Kendrick), Marie needs to deal with being around a younger crowd, and understanding that much of her life has passed her by.
All the Light in the Sky is not the best film that Swanberg has made. It has moments of greatness, and it can be seen how it definitely fits in with the genre, as the majority of it takes place in the small beach house that Marie lives in. There are definitely parts of the film that lag, and even become so slow that they border on boring, and some of the secondary characters could have used a little more depth to truly fill out the story.
But the focus here is on Adams, and the full-on performance that she gives to the film. She truly committed to the role, exposing the subtle weakness and introspection of the character extremely well, truly exposing herself, and the character (there are several scenes of full frontal nudity in the film that actually do help to develop Marie).
For a film viewing for entertainment, All the Light in the Sky is not the right pick when scrolling through Netflix. But for a solid mumblecore movie, buoyed by two very strong female lead performances, there is definitely something worth checking out here.