Safelight (2015)

Safelight (2015)
  • Time: 84 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Tony Aloupis
  • Cast: Evan Peters, Juno Temple, Jason Beghe, Kevin Alejandro


A teenage boy and girl discover a renewed sense of possibility as they go on a road trip to photograph lighthouses along the California coast.

One review

  • Safelight is eighty-four minutes of tedium that loses interest in itself within its opening minutes.

    Set in the Seventies – though the era’s markers barely rise above the generic – this weak character study revolves around disabled teenager Charles (Evan Peters) and truck stop hooker with a heart of gold Vicki (Juno Temple). These are characters that have propelled many an indie drama, but these are also characters whose dead end lives have given indie drama a bit of a bad name. Safelight’s all-too-predictable narrative and by-the-numbers characterisation are prime examples of the stereotypical components that have been spun into gold by more creative filmmakers than writer-director Tony Aloupis, whose plodding script and leaden direction ensure Safelight is pointless rubbish.

    The film opens with the near-rape of Vicki by her psychotic pimp Skid (Kevin Alejandro, so ridiculously and annoyingly over the top), who laughs at the crippled kid when Charles comes out to defend her. Of course, Charles and Vicki soon tiptoe their way into romance, getting to know one another as she accompanies him on a series of road trips to photograph the many lighthouses of California. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, however, as their burgeoning relationship is threatened by their own insecurities and the random appearances by Skid, who will obviously do something terrible to one or both of them before the closing credits roll.

    One of the many problems with Safelight is the way in which Aloupis drowns his characters with too many complications. It’s not enough that Charles is a cripple, but he has to be the victim of bullying as well. Let’s not forget that his mother abandoned him when he was a baby and he’s now taking care of his ailing father (Jason Beghe). Oh, and that camera he’s been using to photograph those lighthouses? That belonged to his older brother who died in the Vietnam War. Vicki, meanwhile, was kicked to the curb by her mother (Ever Carradine) after Vicki’s stepdad started taking a shine to her. Vicki’s little sisters (Meaghan Martin and Modern Family’s Ariel Martin) still believe it was Vicki who made the advances.

    Frankly, neither tale of woe makes Charles or Vicki even the slightest bit interesting and the lead duo do little to help the cause. Peters is adrift, displaying none of the charm that made his Quicksilver so unforgettable in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Temple needs to stop playing these good-hearted white trash roles. Quite frankly, her performance here is listless and could have been B-roll from past films like Killer Joe and the underrated Afternoon Delight. Temple is capable of so much more and she is doing herself no favours by continuing to take on these roles that make her seem like a one-trick pony.

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