Light Years

Review by Poppy Doran @poppydoran

Directed by

Esther Campbell

Starring

Beth Orton Muhammet Uzuner Zamira Fuller

Anticipation.

Heat-hazed adventure with folk favourite Orton.

Enjoyment.

Feels much slower than a light year...

In Retrospect.

Fuller is the brightest star in this constellation.

Edith May Campbell cracks open a fractured family in this overly ambitious debut feature.

“I want to be inside someone else,” is perhaps the most relevant line in Light Years, but for all the wrong reasons. This debut feature from Esther Campbell drowns in visual beauty but falls short in the plot and dialogue. The disconnected talk parodies otherwise duck soup performances from a young, acting novice cast. Sweeping landscapes set to sultry music fill this film up. It looks, sounds and feels like a 90-minute perfume advert.

Folk icon Beth Orton gives a meek performance in a role with room for so much more. As Moira, she is a mother unravelled by a mystery illness, while her hypochondriac offspring Ramona (Sophie Burton), Ewan (James Stuckey) and Rose (Zamira Fuller) play run-around for the day. Fuller, almost single-handedly, drives Light Years from a clumsy Still Alice mimic to heart-breaking in its own right.

Yearning for the vibrant mother everyone but her can remember, their ill-fated buddy-expedition to the seaside ends in tragedy. Campbell draws on her own experiences of personal loss in what is a greatly self-indulgent project. Death, life after death and death in life are mulled over in purgative murmurings of long-dead stars that shine on.

Stylistically, Campbell blurs lines like a controversial pop song. A smattering of supernatural elements (a naked, white-haired man appears often and without explanation) is unfitting for a film that otherwise grounds itself in social realism. What is real? What is not? Either Campbell likes to tease in this paradoxical world, or the answers got lost in the cutting room.

In infrequent spasms, Light Years is a harrowing vignette of a family undone by natural forces. Set in in wheat fields and bluebell meadows, this is film that celebrates and condemns nature in one fell swoop. The biggest failure is Campbell’s pretentious musings. Any hopeful depth is lost in a mire of “If I was a caveman… sleep would be hope”-like quips. What may have worked in Campbell’s BAFTA winning short September, hasn’t quite found its feet on the big screen. Ironically, with so much talk of “globular clusters”, Light Years fails to make a star of its director.

Published 26 Sep 2016

Anticipation.

Heat-hazed adventure with folk favourite Orton.

Enjoyment.

Feels much slower than a light year...

In Retrospect.

Fuller is the brightest star in this constellation.

Suggested For You

Captain Fantastic

By David Jenkins

Viggo Mortensen goes off-piste with mixed results in this homely family drama.

review

Attenberg

By Jason Wood

Largely eschewing the shock tactics of Dogtooth, Attenberg is arguably superior and certainly more embraceable.

review LWLies Recommends

Couple in a Hole

By Simran Hans

Kate Dickie and Paul Higgins star in this slow-burning woodland drama from director Tom Geens.

review

What are you looking for?

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.

Editorial

Design