Parents' Guide to


By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

So-so indie drama has mature themes, cursing.

Movie R 2015 84 minutes
Safelight Poster Image

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While there's an undeniable earnestness and appeal to this film, there are also some problems. For starters, the story in Safelight itself is an indie staple that has been done to death: The damaged and apprehensive male who is shown how to live life to the fullest by a free-spirited female who knows the ropes. We see desperation, heartache, and yearning for escape in small-town America. Everything slows down to give the actors and the story room to breathe; everything but the obligatory Zach Braff-esque indie-rock soundtrack to heighten the moments of connection.

And then the stock characters. The sassy truck stop cashier who can put a flirty trucker in his place with a playfully caustic one-liner that also masks the hurt of multiple heartbreaks and divorce. The rural white pimp who walks around shirtless and tatted, screaming "yahoo!" like a maniac for no discernible reason, abusive one moment then affectionate the next. The proverbial "hooker with the heart of gold." Put all this into a mix in which "the 1970s" is only conveyed by characters saying the decade aloud and a gas pump that reads "leaded," subplots that meander before fizzling out, and an amateurish production overall, and you have a well-intentioned but mediocre movie.

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