GHOSTLIGHT – Review by Pam Grady

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A distinguished Chicago theater family and The Triangle of Sadness’ Dolly De Leon unite in this cinematic tour de force in which grief finds an outlet in the mounting of a play.

Construction worker Dan (Keith Kupferer) copes with the loss of a family member by not really coping at all. He’s barely hanging on at his job, is increasingly remote from his wife Sharon (played by Kupferer’s real-life partner Tara Mallen), and at odds with his troubled teen daughter Daisy (Katherine Mallen Kupferer, who is the real life daughter of Keith and Tara). What remains of his energy is reserved for a long-odds wrongful death lawsuit that will never make him whole again even if it succeeds.

His first meeting with community theater director Rita (De Leon) is far from promising as she reams him for the disruptive noise his company’s roadwork is creating. But before long he is drawn into her world and her production of Romeo and Juliet, discovering in himself a flair for performance that he never even imagined he possessed and a possible path to unburdening himself of the crushing emotional weight he carries.

The amateur theater’s production itself is unlike the typical production of Shakespeare’s classic romance as Rita gets creative to make the play work within the limits of her all-volunteer theater group.

Writer/director Kelly O’Sullivan’s first feature, co-directed with Alex Thompson, is moving and funny in equal measure. Keith Kupferer’s tremendous performance anchors a drama that operates as both a love letter to theater and an acute depiction of the fallout from loss.

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Pam Grady

Pam Grady is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Box Office, FilmStew, SF State Magazine and other publications. Her career began at where she was an editor and staff critic. She is currently President of the San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle.