"It’s somewhat slow burning at times, but always well-performed by the small cast and Fae never allows her script to descend into melodrama"
It’s perhaps fitting that To Keep The Light is written, directed, produced and stars a woman in the form of the clearly very talented Erica Fae. At a time when the film industry finally appears to be addressing its own long-standing issues of sexism and equal opportunities, Fae has worked within said industry to create a film which tells a tale of another time when women who worked hard in the face of those self-same issues.
Inspired by actual events, Fae plays Abbie, the wife of a lighthouse keeper in 1870’s Maine. From the moment we meet Abbie, she is clearly fatigued and isolated, battered by the weather and working tirelessly to keep her lighthouse in order. Simultaneously she tends to the lighthouse keeper himself in the form of her very sick husband Thomas.
In a slow-building start, there is little by the way of dialogue and the somewhat sombre atmosphere does strain the patience. An unknowing plot begins to unfold however when a man washes up on the rocks in the guise of Johan (Antti Reini), a Swede whose backstory doesn’t quite add up.
Fae keeps the tone of the film understated, utilising a soft score and sound design to underpin the unfolding drama and the nature of sexual and emotional repression. It’s somewhat slow burning at times, but always well-performed by the small cast and Fae never allows her script to descend into melodrama. Some of the plot developments are more obvious than others but as the drama reaches its climax, we begin to learn a forgotten but important tale of women who were faced with institutionalised sexism and, until now, were never given the credit (or the chances) they deserved. It might be a slight story in and of itself, but contains important themes that still resonate in wider society to this very day.