Welcome to the Ending Explained for ‘Light of My Life,’ a 2019 dystopian film written and directed by Casey Affleck. The film stars Casey Affleck himself in one of the major roles alongside Anna Pniowsky, Elisabeth Moss, and Tom Bower. The film draws from many other dystopian films, such as The Road and Children of Men. However, the film tries to pull back from the desolation of those films and create something a bit more hopeful. Where The Road could be considered totally nihilistic and Children of Men quite bleak, there are many beautiful moments in ‘Light of My Life’ in contrast.
Casey Affleck proves that his brother is not the only one with talent behind the camera. The actor, now director, does a great job at creating pacing and beautiful visuals. The cinematography by Adam Arkapaw is one of the major highlights. The use of light is truly beautiful, and there is also a great deal of work using shadows and silhouettes. Daniel Hart’s score also highlights many powerful moments, going back and forth between pleasant and anxiety-inducing. It might not be the most original film you have ever seen, but it is quite well done.
The following paragraphs contain spoilers for ‘Light of My Life.’ Read at your own risk.
What happened to the World?
The world of ‘Light of My Life’ is a dystopia, meaning that the society where the story takes place has experienced a breakdown and is now rebuilding itself. This society has new rules, and as in most dystopian stories, these rules deal with control and fear.
Our main characters, Dad and Rag, father and daughter, live in fear of facing others while also trying to control what little they have. Their lives are a constant challenge against the elements and against people who might wish them harm. Dystopias are not pretty places to live, for sure.
When we meet our main characters, we see Dad telling a story to Rag. Dad is an adult, while Rag is a teenage girl of around eleven years old; however, in the world presented in the film, a virus killed almost all the female population. This event was a catastrophe and destroyed society as we know it.
This also means that females have become quite a commodity, and Dad fears that if the world learns that Rag is really a girl, they will take her from him and even do very bad things to her. To avoid this, they live in the woods away from other people, and Rag cuts her hair short and only uses manly clothes.
The movie establishes that the relationship between the two is quite lovely, even if they have been running away from everything for years. Rag seems like a very smart, curious, and capable girl. She likes to read and asks many questions. Dad answers whatever he is able to, and he sets the rules for their survival.
Dad doesn’t trust anyone, but this could be why they have lived the way they have for so long. Rag is unsurprisingly curious about everything that is happening around the outside world, but she obeys her father’s rules the best she can.
When other people discover them, Dad and Rag move to a new place, always avoiding the main road. While the world fell apart, it seems like things are starting to get better. However, kids are still a rarity now that no women are around. And so, even in her disguise, Rag cannot help but call attention to herself.
While moving to another place, the two find an abandoned house with working water and furniture in good condition. Rag is happy to finally experience what it is to live in a house, while Dad is cautious about staying, but he gets convinced by Rag in the end.
Do Dad And Rag Find A Safe Place To Stay?
Dad and Rag manage to live in the house for quite a while. For a time, it seemed like they could actually stay in this house and live in it. However, even when Dad and Rag are quite resourceful, they cannot survive alone; they need provisions, which means they must visit the closest town.
Rag disguises himself in the best possible way, and then they both go to town and buy things on the market. The government has issued ration cards, so anyone can get what they need for some time. They buy their stuff and keep themselves as low-key as possible.
However, the next day, after Dad and Rag have a conversation about sex and how Rag’s body will start changing very soon, they are visited for the first time at the house. Dad and Rag grab their stuff and go out through their escape route, avoiding the men who forced their way into the house. On the road, they also hitchhike, and a young man picks them up.
The young man talks about the place he comes from and how they have everything, even females, although they live separately from the rest of the male population. Dad steals the car from the young man without harming him.
Their destination is Dad’s grandparents’ house. They arrive during a blizzard and are received by three old men named Tom, Calvin, and Lemmy. Tom allows them to stay for the night and get warm. The next day, Dad and Rag take some precautions for their escape, placing their things in a nearby cottage. Tom seems to be teaching Rag some farming skills, but Dad is still cautious around the old men.
Tom confronts Dad about Rag being a girl and asks for proof that she is her daughter and nothing sketchy is happening. Tom himself talks about how he had many daughters, granddaughters, and more, and they all died. Dad gives him proof.
Tom and Dad later talk about how places seem to be safe for women and that, while he is not telling them to go, he wonders how living from place to place has affected both Dad and Rag. The next day, Dad wakes up and sees some men outside.
Calvin seems to have tipped out their location, and they are here for Dad and Rag. Dad kills the first bandit, who, from behind, looks very similar to the young man they stole the car from. Dad kills a second bandit, but then the third, being too strong for him, almost kills him by strangling him.
At that moment, Rag appears and shoots the man, saving Dad. However, her shot also hit Dad. Tom and Lemmy are dead, and Calvin’s fate is left unsaid. Rag takes Dad to a bed and then leaves to look for medical supplies in the nearby cottage. Meanwhile, Dad has a flashback to his wife, where she says that no matter what happens, Dad and Rag will be together, so they will be fine.
Rag comes back, and he patches Dad’s wound. As Dad begins to cry, he says it may be time for them to go to a safer and warmer place. Implying that they might give these known shelters for women a chance. The movie ends with both of them embracing and Rag looking ahead to the things to come.