The Afterlight rewards its viewers with a thoughtful, in-depth portrait of a couple unraveling. Sometimes running away from the city for the safety of upstate countryside isn't always the best call -- and Andrew (an always wonderful Mike Kelly) and Claire (Jicky Schnee) unfortunately figure that out the hard way.
Minimalist performances by Rip Torn and Ana Asensio alone make this film worth viewing.
Co-directors Macneill and Kaleina should be commended for their restraint. Hiring Mother Nature as their production designer was a smart call, focusing on the rusty calm of small town living. Punctuated with moments of quiet tension, one could almost view The Afterlight as what The Shining would've been like if it had been directed by Terrence Malick.
The Afterlight, a deeply resonant film, harks back to a pre-modern Romantic tradition. It is an ode to nature and its mysterious expressive powers that stand in for the stunted emotional lives of the characters. At the center of the film is a parable told by the character played by Rip Torn, full of portent but which is never explained at any point in the film. Only later do you realize therein lies the virtue of the film: the mysterious will remain mysterious. You will enjoy the experience of watching the vibrating, shimmering surface of the world - things, leaves, clouds, the mewing of cows, the aftermath of an eclipse; they stay with you for a while.
Kaleina and Macneill are an excellent duo. The beautiful cinematography reflects the melancholic and often haunting nature of a couple, who, seemingly stranded in a small town (for want of a better life) and left to contend with the psychology of their waning relationship are brought to a very resonant climax that culminates with all the anxieties and desires that have challenged their relationship, in coincidence with an eclipse.
Andrew and Claire expect their getaway to upend the torment of their former life, but they instead find the stagnating and uncommunicative characters of the rural northwest distances them even further. Left in a torrent of indecision and desperation, the two seek solace by mingling with the local inhabitants only to find more disconnect from the blind neighbor (Asensio), whose tears are painstakingly real, and a little girl whose antics are precious until her innocence is shattered by her own curiosities.
There is a naked feeling to the whole piece, like a stripped orchestra, leaving us with the lost and lonely sentiments of a humanity that can no longer live in harmony no matter how far they try to venture from their indiscretions.
I look forward to seeing more from Kaleina and Macneill.
A uniquely crafted, psychological drama about people, time and eternal struggle with entropy. The film features well acted performances by most notably Ana Asensio and Morgan Taddeo, but also by the rest of this sterling lineup headlined by veteran actor Rip Torn. Creators Alexei Kaleina and Craig McNeil wrote, co-directed and edited this polished visual gem. The film, which relies as much on the plastic elements of filmmaking as the narrative content itself, moves slowly but deliberately through the mysterious interplay between a striking rural location, the characters' solitary and somewhat idiosyncratic lives, and circumstances leading up to and concluding with an effectively depicted celestial event.
The movie features, not least of all, grand cinematography by Zoe White and Alexei Kaleina. Cast and crew work in tandem to create a smoldering atmosphere of mystery and intrigue. It was a pleasure to watch this deliberately abstractly-told story unfold on various fronts, framed in the all encompassing embrace of Mother Nature.
An astute visual piece which proves, contrary to many current indicators, that the fine art of movie making is alive and well still, somewhere in New York City.
I saw this film when it premiered here in NYC. It is a really beautifully constructed film, full of quiet moments and perfectly framed shots. The cinematography is meticulous. Performances by the actors are generally very good, but the two highlights for me were the great Rip Torn in a small role, and the little girl who brought some greatly energetic moments to this quiet film. If you like, for instance, Terrance Malik's introspective work, you will see some of his influence in this film and in these first time filmmakers. I am really looking forward to seeing more of their work, and I recommend checking this film out if you can.