I watched this movie on Roku, it was under a section for “Coming of Age.” It is . . . and it isn’t. The DVD cover didn’t help. It’s more Science Fiction than coming of age, although there is a teenage girl (played by Skyler Day) who is at odds with her mother. She wears a t-shirt that declares “I ‘heart’ Phillip K Dick,” which is a wonderful clue about life, death, and our possible future.
Fernando Fragata wrote the script and directed the film. It was nominated and won seven different and deserved awards.
Joaquim de Almeida does an excellent job of catching our attention and leading us through the mystery that begins the film and is never solved. His face was so familiar, but I recognize none of his numerous films. His character, Jay wonders through his house like an automaton. As he walks from room to room we hear a phone message from his best friend. It’s the anniversary of Jay’s wife’s death. There is a present from his wife that has never been opened. His friend has also presented him with a birthday gift of a pair of scissors . . . to cut the ribbons on the present and rejoin the world.
The trailer for Backlight – imdb.com/video/vi1332921113
The film is beautifully shot in the Southwest. The constant wind mixes with the dialog and the mysteries, the characters, and the story that leaves us unsure of what really is taking place. We are touched. We feel for the characters and the people they touch. One of the scenes involved an old airplane graveyard in the Mohave Desert. Although many of the planes litter the desert floor, they have all been stripped of equipment and possible use. A metaphor about death and dying?
Strange but wonderful!
“Backlight is a strange but wonderful film. First it’s a 100% Portuguese production but it was filmed 100% in the United States. How strange is that? Very! Production decisions apart, the film works pretty well. The script is brilliant, the acting is excellent and the cinematography is beautiful, which makes Backlight my film of the year, and probably the best film I’ve seen in quite a few years. The film looks at the adversities of life and gambles with it. The characters are all interlinked in a very random way, it’s a little like 6 degrees of separation. The film is set mostly in the deserts of Nevada and Arizona and the director keeps the shots wide revealing the magnificent backdrops and always moves the camera wisely to bring the picture alive. The characters are deep and insightful, each has a serious problem to face up to and the subtle, naturalistic way their issues play out make for truly emotional cinema. This is not a film about heroes, it’s a film about trying to make the right choices when your back is to the wall, and the doubts that go with this. Great uplifting movie, especially if you are and have been depressed. I think this film could be a great alternative to Prozac! : )”
The additional poster or DVD cover show some of the players, but not all their links. Just like life, I guess.
One of the characters drives an old, classic, bright red Mercury pickup. I didn’t decipher the name on the hood until the second viewing. This film is surprising and above all . . . touching. I highly recommend it.