Into Invisible Light (2018), directed by Shelagh Carter, is a Canadian drama starring Jennifer Dale (Helena Grayson). Carter and Dale co-wrote the film’s script. It’s a story where the death of a meaningful relationship meets grief, angst, loneliness, and renewal.
It’s a story about an attractive, middle-aged woman who finds herself alone and at a crossroads following the death of her devoted husband. To complicate things, her late husband’s business partner, David (Stuart Hughes), is romantically interested in her, and a former love, Michael (Peter Keleghan), reappears in her life, and stirs at her heartstrings.
It’s a beautiful, artistic film. Dale shines as Helena bringing a gravitas and dignity to her character as the grieving widow unsure of herself who is caught up in the past. Carter weaves together many visual elements to create a compelling film juxtaposing the narrative of Helena’s past against the narrative of her life as she mourns and processes her grief. The motif of grief and nostalgia weave themselves through the narrative stitching the film into a cohesive structure. Close ups and medium angle shots are interspersed with wide angle shots. The film is shot in black and white, and color, giving the film a richness and complexity, contrasting Helena’s interior life, grief and loss (black and white footage) against the narrative of her life (color). The music and soundtrack complement the film moving it along and setting the dramatic tone. I really liked the location shots of Winnipeg contextualizing the narrative within the framework of the city which gives the film an intimate quality and feel. And there is more to the film than Helena’s story as it touches on the lives of the people who are directly and indirectly involved in her life which adds to the film’s richness and complexity. We see Michael, Lydia, Monica, David and her mother-in-law as they are, distinct, and not through Helena’s POV.
The film resonated with me on many levels – intellectually, emotionally, and on a personal level. Whether we are aware or not, and as much we crave order and stability, life will throw us a curve ball. The film shines a light on the curve ball of life – the transitory nature and impermanence of life, and the importance of living in the moment which is easier said than done. Do we stop living when the life we have lived comes to an end? If nothing else, don’t we owe it to ourselves to go on living and give our life new meaning? Shouldn’t we consider and explore new romantic opportunities if they present themselves to ease the pain and loneliness resulting from the death of a meaningful relationship? The film poses many important questions about the philosophy of life and is food for thought. I also appreciated the theme of the film, the powerful emotion of grief, which is explored in the film in its various shades and how destabilizing and overwhelming the experience can be. I have been there, and the film struck an emotional cord with me. These intense emotions make us human and part of the human condition, and allow us to relate to Helena and to anyone who is experiencing loss. Her loss has left her vulnerable and in a state of heightened loneliness. When she re-visits her past and pursues her creative endeavors, she re-surfaces into the light of being and is able to move forward. Her example is a guiding light to all of us, and shows us the healing power of art.
There is much to recommend the film. It’s superbly acted, and beautifully shot. Do see it for you won’t be disappointed.