Light Years + Q&A

Reviewed by Chris Coombes

We had a very special treat at the Film Club last Sunday – one of those occasions when I'm stuck once again by how important it is to have a film club to belong to.

Light Years is Esther Campbell's first feature film. She wrote and directed it. It was described in the club brochure as a very British film in its social realism. That's true, but it was so much more than that. It was intriguing, magical and beautiful as well.

For a short film the story is so layered that it's hard to know how to summarise it, but at its core are three siblings who are coping with their mother's mental illness and the chaos that brings to their lives, whilst fearful that they may inherit the illness themselves. The cast is superb – especially Beth Orton who plays a mother who is incapable of caring for her children but who, at the same time has taught them something very special about love in all its forms.

Each sibling is special and each deals with the difficulties in her/his own way. Muhammet Uzner as the father shows us grief, loss and despair in a beautifully quiet, detailed performance. There is an almost painful honesty about how the characters relate to each other.
The film seems to lack boundaries of any sort – we are often treated to a series of apparently unrelated images and we are left to interpret what we see for ourselves. The story which is about one day in the family's lives is set no-where in particular, and brings us both urban squalor and rural tranquillity in equal helpings. We are on the fringe of a place we all recognise, and it doesn't matter that we don't know where it is.

This is a bold, clever and innovative film that at first baffled and then delighted me. Esther was with us for a discussion after the film was shown, and that was both enlightening and inspiring. An experience to remember; a director to watch out for.