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Anna Pniowsky as Rag, left, and Casey Affleck in Light of My Life.

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  • Light of My Life
  • Written and directed by: Casey Affleck
  • Starring: Casey Affleck and Anna Pniowsky
  • Classification: 14A; 119 minutes

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The Road meets Leave No Trace with a sprinkling of another half-dozen sharper films, Light of My Life is Casey Affleck’s ode to the power of storytelling. Namely, Affleck’s brand of storytelling: glacial, meandering, but not entirely ineffective.

The actor’s first narrative feature as a writer and director (not counting his 2010 quasi-doc experiment I’m Still Here) opens with a 12-minute-long unbroken shot in which a ragged-looking unnamed father (Affleck) unwinds a messy story about Noah’s Ark to his young daughter, Rag (Anna Pniowsky). The scene, which ends with the reveal that the little girl is one of the last of her kind after a plague has wiped out nearly all of the world’s women, neatly encapsulates everything that doesn’t work in the film: It confuses length with profundity, and offers too little of interest to its audience while asking for too much emotional investment in return.

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New movies in theatres this week: The thoughtfully weighty Luce and the unentertaining Dora and the Lost City of Gold

As Dad and Rag make their way through a largely abandoned world, Affleck’s directorial vision, too, seems to stumble aimlessly. The filmmaker coaxes a quietly strong performance from Pniowsky, but there is not much to his world that we haven’t seen before.

Light of My Life opens Aug. 9.

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