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Ghostlight ranked among the best films of the year

“Ghostlight,” which follows a construction worker dragged into a staging of “Romeo and Juliet,” is a drama about damaged individuals using art to heal themselves. It’s messy, just like life. It’s one of those films that seems both too lengthy and not long enough. However, there is a purity and seriousness to what it is accomplishing that is becoming more rare in American indie films.

The narrative, co-directed by the Chicago-based filmmaking pair of Kerry O’Sullivan and Alex Thompson (O’Sullivan authored the screenplay), centers on a working-class family. The father, Dan (Keith Kupferer), works in construction. He lives in the suburbs with his wife, Sharon (Tara Mallen), and his teenage daughter, Daisy (Katherine Mallen Kupferer). This is a difficult family. You may notice this long before the film shows all of their problems and allows you to explore them.

One of “Ghostlight’s” most intriguing features—that you don’t discover the “deal” of this family until fairly late in the movie—might frustrate some viewers. For a long time, you couldn’t figure out why they all behaved the way they did. Dan is moody and a bit of a space cadet at work. He has a hair-trigger anger that bursts through his inner fog and creates major issues.

Daisy has a temper and is now being chastised for an outburst at school. She uses vulgarity in places where no one else does, and she seems unconcerned about breaking a taboo. Sharon is a dedicated wife and mother who seems to be holding onto a thread. You gradually discover more about what happened to them, and as you learn more, you begin to feel the weight of it yourself.

Dolly De Leon, a breakthrough star in “Triangle of Sadness,” portrays Rita, an actress in the aforementioned small troupe who meets Dan when his team is performing noisy construction near the theater and ends up being his access point into a very low-budget community theater performance of “Romeo and Juliet.”

Even though Rita is in her fifties, she plays Juliet, and when the much younger actor who plays Romeo complains that it seems strange, Dan, who wanders into the company, is hired to fill in.

“Ghostlight” does not make full use of its premise’s great potential. I wouldn’t be surprised if the filmmakers’ draft files included a three- or four-hour edit. But I don’t believe it’s any less valuable because it didn’t achieve all it might have done. It seems to have been created instinctively, and it is certainly on the right track in terms of expression.

It demands your patience at first but grows more powerful as it progresses. The last thirty minutes were particularly impactful, in part because it is impossible to accurately map all of the many ideas and connections it evokes. You just have to accept it for what it is becoming and then decide to unite with it and allow its feelings to become yours.

The idea that this family might find solace in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet—or the fact that the troupe has cast two middle-aged individuals as the titular characters—are both aspects that, at first glance, appear strange but ultimately contribute significantly to the film’s dramatic strength.

Abubakar is a writer and digital marketing expert. Who has founded multiple blogs and successful businesses in the fields of digital marketing, software development. A full-service digital media agency that partners with clients to boost their business outcomes.

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