Movie Review: 'The Wake of Light' starring Matt Bush and Rome Brooks
The Wake of Light montages its way to romance.
The Wake of Light stars Rome Brooks as Mary, a woman from a small town who has remained in this town to take care of her ailing father. When she was six years old, Mary’s father, Stanley (William Lige Morgan), collapsed in a field from a stroke. Since that time, he’s been mostly unable to speak and has had minimal function other than walking from the bedroom to the kitchen to the living room on a day to day basis.
Mary has cared for her father most of her life and doesn’t spend much time thinking about any other kind of life. Each day, she wakes up at dawn and goes around their small town selling water in glass jars for a buck a piece. With her father’s disability payments, this is enough to maintain their home and groceries and there is never any talk of financial problems. How one is able to convince people to simply buy water in a glass jar they must return to a local store, is never really explained. We're just told that's really good water.
Mary’s day to day routine is upended by the arrival of Cole (Matt Bush from ABC’s The Goldbergs). Cole is a drifter, sleeping in his car and working his way across the country to go hiking. When his car breaks down just outside of Mary’s small town, he comes to town and finds her and is immediately smitten. Mary, not so much, but eventually, as Cole persists in pursuing her, Mary begins to let her guard down.
In montage, we watch the two spend the day together as Mary sells water to the locals and Cole appears to drone on at length about everything from arrow heads to his trip, to how Mary’s water tastes better than any water he’s ever had. She explains that it came from a well on her family’s property that was discovered years ago using a dowsing rod and some very good luck. Since then, the well has never run dry.
You might expect that detail to be important, perhaps Mary reaches a turning point in her life when she begins to fall in love and the well finally runs dry. No, that doesn’t happen here. That’s not a bad choice as it would be a highly predictable turn of events. That said, why it gets mentioned at all, and why this is is one of the pieces of dialogue that isn’t covered by a lengthy, sun drenched montage, I have no idea.
The Wake of Light is not a bad movie but there are too many odd elements for me to buy in with it. First of all is the strange and quirky choice to have a grown woman walking around town selling water for a dollar a glass jar. I understand that giving her a job such as this is kind of quirky and could, perhaps, be charming in a different kind of movie. However, The Wake of Light is so self-serious about Mary and her life that her quirky job never translates to being charming.
The tone of The Wake of Light is too heavy for the movie to carry. The filmmakers appear to want to make a lighthearted movie but the focus on the supposedly dire condition of Mary’s father drags down the good nature of the movie. Star Rome Brooks never breaks out of being overwhelmed and exhausted by her life. The movie is never much fun and the scenes between Mary and Cole that are supposed to establish their falling in love are each covered with montage music.
We can see the characters exchanging dialogue and laughing together and being silly but we never hear any of this supposedly funny dialogue. All of the seemingly fun elements are presented in montage under a not particularly distinctive pop soundtrack. The conversations we do hear are the serious ones, the sad ones and the relatively mundane ones, such as the conversation about Mary’s family’s well.
I’m not trying to discourage you from seeing The Wake of Light, the film is far too inoffensive and well made for me to advise you to avoid it. I wouldn’t put it at the top of my must see list however. The Wake of Light is far too humdrum and wholesome to write too negatively about. You may even be one of those people who can find this movie's unique wavelength. If you like Matt Bush from The Goldberg’s or you enjoy your romance on the sappy, ponderous, and soulful side, then perhaps The Wake of Light is the movie for you.