To Keep The Light
directed by Erica Fae
starring Antti Reine and Erica Fae
The light house keeper’s life is tough at best â€” isolation, monotony, and the responsibility for the lives of people who you never, ever meet. In this glowing yet slow paced drama, Abbie (Erica Fae) keeps the Jonesport, Maine light operating long after her husband and the official lighthouse keeper drinks himself to death. It’s a tough life, and even though she’s on her own the town’s folk nitpick her as they gun for her job.
One night she’s late to fire up the light and the next morning a man washes ashore. Was she at fault for a wreck? All we know is he’s a Swede named Johan (Antti Reini) and she nurses him back to health. He points out her husband has been dead for 6 weeks, and eventually disposes of the body. The town’s people are suspicious, and drunken Eaton (Gabe Fazio) drops by to visit and maybe rape her until Johan sets him straight. Eventually the light house inspectors (Wass Stevens and Jarlath Conroy) arrive. They agree hers is the best kept light they’ve seen, yet she IS a woman, so there’s no chance she’ll get to stay. That’s 1895 for you.
The parallels with Ingmar Bergman’s style are clear: The pacing is slow and deliberate, backgrounds are minimal yet beautifully composed, and the inner tale of isolation, rejection and ennui are ever present. The camera work is beautiful as only the coast of Maine can make it, assuming you get a few clear days. Some scenes still haunt me, there’s a long shot of Abbie and the inspectors where they seem about an inch high as the light looms far above them, and in close up shot small patches of post production fog pass between conversations. Fae’s Abbie is positive and competent, but that’s not enough to qualify for this sort of work. The town’s people are particularly authentic, they always answer questions with skepticism, mistrust, and skepticism. They know what is right and why you aren’t on their page. Oddly, no one seems to have much of a Down East accent. Admittedly, Abbie is from Maryland and Johan from Sweden, and the inspectors from some Babylon-like Washington, but the town’s people have curiously flat voices. While this story is always gripping, it’s also “deliberately paced” and even though the 88 minute run time is pretty standard, there are times you’ll feel like you, too, have been out on that rock for your entire career.
This film will be shown as a part of the 2016 Florida Film Festival. For tickets, show times and location please visit www.floridafilmfestival.com