Thursday, June 13, 2024

A Bit of Light movie review & film summary (2024)

Ella spends her days shrugging off group therapy sessions and sitting in parks longing for the days she could play with her daughters freely. It’s during these long sits at the nearby playground that Ella encounters Neil (Luca Hogan), a loquacious, wise beyond his years almost-14-year-old boy. He latches on to her, seeing a yearning in her that he’s determined to fill, as it seems he may possess a similar longing (he constantly mentions his much older, seemingly absent parents). So begins a cathartic friendship that buoys Ella in the waters of her self-hatred and desperation. 

“A Bit of Light” is creatively unremarkable, with uninspired visuals and editing that play like a workshop in flashbacks and cool-versus-warm emotional motifs. The film devotes the majority of its effort to the relationship between Ella and Neil, which due to the large age gap and lack of any parental conversation is taboo at best and troubling at worst. Even further, Neil’s character is written so blatantly as a device for Ella’s comfort that for a large chunk of the movie, it appears that he is either supernatural or a figment of her imagination. Aside from the fact that Neil lacks his own friends or family, he also says everything just right, is always on the periphery of scenes, in shadows or corners, and characteristically refuses to wear a coat in the chilly English weather. It isn’t until he begins interacting with the film’s other characters that we realize his actuality and are then prompted to process his peculiarity. 

In his first role, Hogan’s performance as Neil suffices for its narrative purpose. He elicits a few chuckles with his forwardness and slightly smug demeanor. However, “A Bit of Light,” prioritizes this relationship above the far more interesting chemistries that it pushes to the sidelines. Ella’s dynamic with her father contains nuggets of untapped potential. We learn that he too is a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for many years, but aside from him urging her to attend meetings, this becomes a background fact. Paquin and Winstone play off each other well with Ella’s pride colliding with her father’s frustration.

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HomeReviewsA Bit of Light movie review & film summary (2024)

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