Written by: Adam Vaughn | October 6th, 2020
Ms. White Light (Paul Shoulberg, 2019) 3 out of 4 stars.
Ms. White Light tells the story of Alexis “Lex” Cordova, an “existential” counselor who works with terminally ill patients on the verge of death. While her father urges her that “there’s more to life than what you’re doing,” Lex insists that her life is what it is, and does not desire to search her own self to figure out what she actually wants. In comes one of her patients, Val, who challenges Lex’s role as a counselor, and indirectly forces her to face her antisocial demeanor and discover her own potential.
The film is driven heavily by lead actress Roberta Colindrez (Amazon’s I Love Dick), who gives a subtle but well delivered performance as Lex. Colindrez is truthfully the most genuine and rooted role of the film, sarcastic but also portraying a sense of vulnerability. She is at her best when she is alongside supporting actors John Oritz (Kong: Skull Island), who plays her father Gary, and Judith Light (Amazon’s Transparent), who plays Val. The film, in general, is strongest combining these three characters, resulting in both funny, as well as moving, scenes.
Ms. White Light tells a simple and quite predictable story, confined to a small cast and a repeating cycle of characters. It relies mostly on cleverly written dialogue and the performance of Colindrez to centralize the emotional impact. The cinematography, with its moving shots, works seamlessly with the performances. Additionally, the film moves fluidly from one scene to the next, keeping the story going and never faltering or coming to a halt in pacing.
While the performances (and the push of performances via mostly long takes) contain the bulk of value in the film, Ms. White Light still misses the one piece of thematic content that could differentiate it from countless other tales of life right before death. Again, the story is simple and predictable, and so doesn’t leave the viewer with much more to think about than the usual themes of this kind of movie. Without any noticeable change in the characters (aside from the obvious), along with a lack of any surprising or gripping moments, the film remains light-hearted at all times, never reaching for a more in-depth commentary of what it means to deal with death and the end of life.