Realism and fantasy collide in Jonathan Lethem's genre-bending coming-of-age story, which follows two estranged brothers as they try to leave New York City for a new life in California only... See full summary »


Jonathan Lethem (short story), Christopher Peditto (screenplay)





Credited cast:
Paul Dano ... Don (AKA: Light)
Michael Esper ... Paul
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Anthony M. Bertram ... Drug Dealer
Seamus Boyle ... Young Paul
Eugene Byrd ... Kaz
Paul D'Amato ... Jimmy
Paz de la Huerta ... Annette
Omar Evans Omar Evans ... Drey
Stephen Kunken ... Douglas
Darrell Larson ... Speaker
Angelica Page ... Marilla (as Angelica Torn)
Desmond Richardson ... Ronaldo
Ryan Skeleton Boy Ryan Skeleton Boy ... Punk Rocker
Robert Tuftee Robert Tuftee ... Doorman
Will W Warren ... Cabby


Realism and fantasy collide in Jonathan Lethem's genre-bending coming-of-age story, which follows two estranged brothers as they try to leave New York City for a new life in California only to find their plans--and lives--being forever changed by the appearance of a mysterious alien. We follow Paul--fresh from dropping out of college and living unhappily at home with his parents--as he arrives in New York City's Washington Square Park in search of his younger brother Don, who was kicked out of their parents' home a year earlier with neither Paul or their parents hearing from him since. Realizing their lives are at a dead end and looking to forge a new future together, Paul suggests that the two hop a plane for California and "leave all the bullshit behind." After a robbery intended to raise money for their trip goes awry, the brothers find themselves being pursued not only by the drug dealers they ripped off, but by a sufferer: one of the sphinx-like creatures that roam the city, ... Written by Anonymous

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Drama | Sci-Fi


Not Rated

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[first lines]
Paul: My brother showed me the gun. I'd never seen one up close before. He kept it in a backpack under his bed at the Y.
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User Reviews

Meditative and melancholy genre-mash, nicely tendered on a pinched budget
13 July 2019 | by EyeAskanceSee all my reviews

LIGHT AND THE SUFFERER is a peculiar little exercise in dreamy cross-genre abstraction which centers on two young native-Manhattan brothers, one a hopeless addict, the other a more grounded, though susceptive college dropout. They mutually agree that starting a new life in California would benefit them both, but lacking the necessary funds for this move, they devise a scheme to rob a smalltime dope-pusher. The plan goes awry, however, and the brothers must lay low to avoid the dope pusher's lackeys. To complicate matters even more, they find themselves being incessantly tracked by a "sufferer"...a quadrupedal, silent creature with a humanlike head. Though these beings are confirmed to be extraterrestrial, no further exposition of their origins is given...their existence in the world seems understood, and is moreless acknowledged with offhand indifference. They are, however, regarded with some degree of disesteem, in that they habitually, albeit nonthreateningly, stalk individuals in the midst of a personal quandary or other such impasse in their lives. The motives for this behavior are argued but never fully clarified, though being "followed" is seen as a frustrating and potentially distressing ordeal which carries a rather touchy social stigma.

An earnest microbudget endeavor sourced from a story by cult writer Jonathan Lethem, it's surprisingly well appointed, and alluringly shot with an artful eye. A methodically slow-burning picture, its primary focus is more on the dilemma faced by the key characters than on the fantastical materiality of tailgating alien man-dogs. It could possibly be argued that the creatures have a figurative placement in the story, though what, exactly, they might represent is anybody's guess. I personally don't have a problem with vague narratives, but it might put-off some viewers, as will the primitive but sparingly used CGI effects.

In a nutshell, a flawed but mindfully prepared ambrosia with a pinch of hard-boiled neo-noir, a dash of sci-fi, and a sprinkling of plaintive oddly flavorful dish unlikely to appease all appetites.


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Release Date:

9 September 2008 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

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