Welcome to another SMP Review!
2020 was an eventful, history making year. The pandemic was swiftly ramping up, society was trying to adapt to a “new normal” and the Black Lives Matter movement began. It makes a perfect backdrop for Bernard Rose’s Traveling Light. In Traveling Light, Caddy is a man who is looking for his missing son while working as an Uber and Delivery Driver. His son has been missing for a couple of years, but Caddy has not given up hope. Over the course of the day of May 30th, 2020, Caddy meets a number of characters, including Harry. Harry is a cult leader who decides to invite some of his flock to a house on Mullholland Drive to take part in a rather bizarre, existential ceremony. Meanwhile, the city of L.A. is a powder keg of building tension due to the murder of George Floyd. As Caddy continues to ferry more people to Harry’s house, that powder keg is ignited along with Harry’s secret plan for his followers, while Caddy just wants to earn some money and find his son.
Traveling Light is character driven biting satire that is hilarious, thought provoking, and subtly terrifying. The social commentary represented by the various characters Caddy meets pulls no punches. Whether it is a woman who refuses to keep her mask on while in the car with Caddy or the guy who seems good on the surface but is actually a creeper, or the privileged individuals of Harry’s flock. All are different aspects of our culture which reared their head during the rise of the pandemic and civil protests. The tone to the commentary is similar to the one in Rose’s Candyman, but with a more subtle, gradual build of dread. Traveling Light uses a Cinéma vérité style of storytelling, giving it a documentary feel. This grounded the film further and added depth to all of the characters by making them feel like real people.
Tony Todd is wonderful as Caddy. He gives you a very sympathetic, everyday man who is just trying to do his job while also fighting to stay positive in the search for his son and in spite of the state of society. You feel his frustration when dealing with the people he is transporting as well as his love for his son. Harry, played by Danny Houston, is dark, slightly creepy but also charismatic. I love what Houston does with this character. He gives Harry just enough honesty that you will almost buy what he is selling but at the same time there is something just below the surface that makes you uneasy. The uneasiness grows as things escalate at Harry’s gathering and it is thanks to Houston’s performance. Stephen Dorff’s Todd is a layered character; someone who didn’t believe in the whole meditation and existentialism schtick that Harry presented in the beginning, but that changes for him to the surprise of his, played by Olivia d’Abo. He does half-heartedly try to question some of Harry’s actions but never gets his answers.
This is considered a drama but the use of real world news clips in the background, the various forms of paranoia the characters feel, and even the color palette all give the story a more horror-like atmosphere. The feeling of dread never goes away even when chuckling at a drunk Todd trying to order food. The audience will definitely connect with the characters because ninety percent of the conversations and situations portrayed were actual conversations and situations many faced in 2020, providing yet another layer to an already stacked story.
Traveling Light is not those looking for Tarintino-esque conversations or fast paced action. If you enjoy a day-in-the-life type story that has satire mixed with steadily paced thought provoking scenes with horror undertones, then you will want to seek this out. I found myself immediately engrossed in it and was delightfully surprised by the ending. 5 stubs.
I have been reviewing films since high school. I love discussing films with those who share my passion for them. I also do video reviews on YouTube and on my podcast.