Ms. White Light Shines With Existential Dread.
After SXSW, Ms. White Light lands at the Torino Film Festival. This black comedy, directed by Paul Shoulberg, chronicles the story of Lex Cole (Roberta Colindrez), a young woman who counsels terminally ill clients that have trouble letting go.
The character construction of the female protagonist is incredibly nuanced, bringing to the silver screen an out-of-the-ordinary tomboy, who has an exceptional ability to connect with the dying, as opposed to her inaptitude to be softhearted with the living. Lex works with her father and business partner Garret (John Ortiz), and finds unsolicited loyalty from Nora (Carson Meyer), a former client obsessed with samurai culture. Despite her aloofly masculine appearance, Lex also engages in a gawky romance with the charming Spencer (Zachary Spicer), a seductive, but morally ambiguous psychic. Most importantly she struggles to help Valerie (Judith Light), her most challenging client, who refuses to play by Lex’s rules, and will trigger the young mortality councillor to question her own life decisions.
Ms. White Light is very Heideggerian, in the way it explores the theme of mortality. Following the phenomenologist’s predicaments, the movie unveils how Being-toward-death generates a process of growth provided by the dread of dying. This analysis is done by showing the multiple layers that distinguish the journey of the departed. It doesn’t merely ponder on grief and suffering, but also portrays the moments of frustration, monotony and incongruity, that lead to the white light. No frills, nor melodrama are used in the storytelling of death. The strength of the film lies in the empathetic intimacy that is created between the characters and the audience. The poetic mise-en-scène of a series of farewells leads to exorcising the fear of departure. This intertwines with Lex’s confrontation with her childhood trauma, connected to the loss of her mother.
Ms. White Light elaborates on the mourning process avoiding maudlin rambling. This cathartic exploration of mortality, allows audiences to step beyond their comfort zone, following Lex’s personal interior voyage that leads to a successful conclusion without regressing into prosaism. The characters are broken and will be fixed along their introspective turn, as they embark upon the quest of accepting death and capturing the surreal complexity of the entire experience.