All the Light in the Sky (Film Review)

All the Light in the Sky (Film Review)

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.

light3The 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.

light4All 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.

light2But 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.

Drinking Buddies (Film Review)

Drinking Buddies (Film Review)

There is nothing about the premise of this film that I do not like. Friends who own a brewery, their complicated love lives, a “they belong together but are they clever enough to figure it out” relationship, beautiful women, strong acting performances.

Johnson definitely as scruffy in this photo as he is in the film. He gets to sport an awesome beard.

Drinking Buddies, which is now on Netflix Canada, is a very strong movie, and it is led by the amazing performance by Olivia Wilde. In this film, she is best defined as being a beautiful disaster. She definitely isn’t glammed up at all in the movie, spending most of it with bags under her eyes, hungover, and in some fairly ratty tank tops. But there is still something about her that is incredibly desirable, and that speaks to the level of her performance. She is a complete mess, going through a breakup with her boyfriend, who could possibly the most boring human ever, and has no chemistry with her. But she is a mess that you want to know, because she is a cool girl, and one who is willing to down beer after beer with her friends. You can’t help but love her.

The movie also has a great supporting cast, including the always great Ron Livingston (seriously, him in Office Space and Band of Brothers is amazing) as Wilde’s dull and ill-fitting boyfriend, Jake M. Johnson (from New Girl) playing Wilde’s co-worker and best friend, and the always fantastic and sedate Anna Kendrick (if you are not yet a fan and only know her from Twilight, you are missing out. Check her out in Pitch Perfect and Up in the Air). The foursome makes this movie what it is, which is a quiet story about friends and falling in love.

This is Olivia Wilde's best performance.
This is Olivia Wilde’s best performance. Even roughed up, she is still beautiful.

Throughout the film, there is an understated jealousy between all of the characters, based on the nature of their relationships, and this provides the depth, and the warmth, of the film. There is nothing over-the-top to be seen here. There is no scene where the characters are running through an airport trying to tell someone that they love them before they leave their lives forever. No hammy romantic gestures that destroys the relationships that we learn to respect over the course of the hour and a half run time.

The movie is calm, and understated. Not a collection of drunken adventures. It is based in realism, and this is why I liked this movie so much. It is something that can happen, that has happened, and will definitely happen again. So many of us have been in situations like this before, where we don’t necessarily realize that the thing that is most perfect for us is sitting right before us. Sometimes it is painful to watch the realism, but this is the way things are in real life. It isn’t always fireworks and crazy hookups and insane parties. Sometimes it’s quiet conversations about the possibility of marriage, getting too drunk and trying to make a bonfire, or running into the ocean after far too many. Sometimes it is all about sitting quietly next to your friend over lunch.

This simplicity is what makes Drinking Buddies a movie worth watching. If you are in it for a rip-roaring drinking comedy, keep searching. This is not that film. This one is definitely something more than that, something that feels a little bit more important.

Well worth a watch.