2006 - United Kingdom / Germany - 110 minutes
Writer and Director - Craig Rosenberg
My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars
I love a good old-fashioned mystery / thriller and Half Light deliciously qualifies as one, with a generous touch of the supernatural thrown in. It is the story of Rachel Carlson who is trying to recover some semblance of normalcy after the drowning of her young son. She is a famous author who has, understandably, been blocked since the tragic event. To try to remedy her situation, she moves to a remote community in Scotland where she occupies an idyllic seaside cottage.
Rachel is welcomed in a conservative, yet not unkind, way by the local townsfolk, but is shocked by one woman who seems to know about her dead son. Being told that the woman is the local nut, she, at first, dismisses the woman's cryptic statements but is soon thrown into an emotional whirlpool when her son begins to appear in and about the cottage.
Just opposite her cottage is an island lighthouse she plans to use in her new novel. She goes by boat to explore the island and finds that the lighthouse, rather than being automatic, is run by a keeper. Angus is the descendent of the original keeper and takes great pride in his family history and his quiet, lonely life. Love blossoms between Rachel and Angus but there are signals that all will not be well.
There is nothing unique about the story line of Half Light. As a matter of fact, it's pretty easy to figure out early on into the mystery how everything is going to evolve. There are some good, shocking moments as events unfold, and, all in all, it's a satisfying tale.
The acting, scenery, music, and general mood of the film are what raise it to a level higher than the run-of-the-mill effort in this genre.
Demi Moore plays a Rachel with whom it's easy to identify. Ms. Moore - an excellent actor not given nearly enough credit for her achievements - provides a portrayal of an intelligent woman with a strength of spirit and mind who is determined to go on with life even though she has been dealt a tragic blow.
Several supporting performances are also notable. Angus is played by Hans Matheson in a a sensitive performance as the enigmatic lighthouse keeper who is able to renew Rachel's passion for life. Matheson has an uncanny ability to delineate the different personalities of his character.
James Cosmo plays the local law officer who is skeptical of the occurrences reported to him by Rachel, but Cosmo does not fall into that cliché role of the doubting lawman that we find in so many movies of this type. Instead, he gives a generally sympathetic performance as a compassionate man of sensible thought.
The local nut is played by Joanna Hole who, also, demonstrates a restrained interpretation of a woman possessed of unique powers who is well aware of their effects upon others. All of the actors in the film must have benefited from excellent direction so as to keep the story in the realm of reality.
Probably, for me, the most outstanding features of Half Light are the scenery and locations. They were perfect choices to promote the moods of the film. We first see Rachel in an expensive house in London where everything is perfect - just as perfect as her life before her loss. In Scotland - in reality, Wales - Rachel is in a setting that is lonely, mysterious and filled with the power of nature. I was overwhelmed by the beauty and power of the scenery of this seaside location.
For me - thankfully - the tragedy that Rachel experiences in Half Light is foreign, so how I would react, or a close friend would react is unknown. I do know that Demi Moore caused me to believe Rachel and all that happens to her in contrast to the response that often comes when we see women in films of this sort shown as almost insane and hysterical. Half Light instead provides us with solid characters, extraordinary views, and a good story - pretty good for two hours of entertainment.
March 13, 2006