Distributed By: ARC Entertainment
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
So, what do you do when you are home from work, feeling sicker than a dog? When you can finally keep your eyes opened long enough, you stare at the television that has been droning in the background as you snored most of the day. This is how I found myself watching movie after movie I never heard of or never thought about watching. This is exactly how I found myself watching the film Safelight.
Set in the 1970s, Safelight features Evan Peters as Charles, a seventeen-year-old with a difficult life. Charlie has a disability that limits his walking abilities. Despite that, Charlie works at a truck stop while going to high school. He helps take care of his dying father (Jason Beghe) with the help of Peg (Christine Lahti) who also works at the truck stop and helped get Charlie the job. In his spare time, while ducking bullies, Charles works on his beloved hobby, photography.
One night, while working, Charles witnesses a local pimp named Skid (Kevin Alejandro) beating up on a prostitute. Charles, carrying a baseball bat, defends her and the two become friendly. Charles eventually tells his new friend, Vickie (Juno Temple), about an upcoming photography contest. When he explains that his wish is to photograph the lighthouses of California, Vickie graciously offers to help drive him to the various destinations.
The two begin to learn about each other, becoming closer with each lighthouse and Charles decides he should pay Vickie back for her kindness by helping her make contact with her family. But when that plan backfires, it threatens to tear apart the friendship the two have created, plummeting both into a deep depression they might never find their way out of.
I was really rather surprised I had never heard of Safelight prior watching it the other day. Sure, it’s an independent film and was given a limited release time in theaters before going straight to video, but I would have thought I’d at least heard of it or seen a preview somewhere. After all, Safelight is a pretty decent film, despite the clichés.
This is a coming of age flick in which both main characters take a good look in the mirror and decide whether the road they are traveling is the one they really want to continue on. Charles begins to realize his worth, defining his own path rather than letting other people’s identities define who he will become. Vickie must decide if problems and events in her past should define who she is today or if a change of destinies is even possible. Both characters bring out the best in one another and allow each other to see what is possible for them if they go at things with eyes opened.
I thought the whole film was very well done. I loved the artistry of the cinematography as well as the dramatic acting by both Juno Temple and Evan Peters. Their chemistry together was terrific, but there were some especially emotional scenes in which both characters expressed themselves extremely well alone. Safelight is an excellent little indie film well worth spending the time to see.