You Light Up My Life (1977)

Didi Conn in You Light Up My Life (1977)

It Didn't Light Up My Life

Ever since she was a little girl Laurie (Didi Conn) has been performing on stage, tutored by her stand up comedian father Sy (Joe Silver) who wants nothing more than for her to follow in his foot steps. But Laurie is not a natural comedian and in truth would prefer to be acting and singing for a living. But her issues with her father are not Laurie's only issue as she is engaged to tennis coach Ken (Stephen Nathan) and the lavish wedding plans are becoming too much. And then there is Chris (Michael Zaslow) who she meets in a bar and who ends up having a one night stand with after he steals a kiss. Except Chris turns out to be a director when a few days later Laurie shows up at a studio to record a song and suggests she could act in the movie in the lead role.

Ever since as a child I saw Didi Conn in "Grease" I have liked her, she has this mix of comically quirky and vulnerable which makes her someone who is simply likeable. It is exactly that which she brings to "You Light Up My Life" a nice little drama about a woman finally making a stand for herself. In fact if you were to strip "You Light Up My Life" back to the basics of Didi Conn playing a timid woman who takes control of her life and you have the ingredients for a good drama especially when you add a 70s sound to things with songs which have an almost anthem like quality due to catchy tunes and catchier lyrics.

Didi Conn and Joe Silver in You Light Up My Life (1977)

The thing is that "You Light Up My Life" ends up a bit of a wet lettuce of a movie and kind of flops along till predictably we see Laurie bloom into a person with her own opinion and so on. It almost feels like at times there was no script and Didi Conn was forced to make it up as she went which is fine but it makes scenes end up feeling awkward as if the actors around her weren't sure of themselves. But then when you hear some of the dialogue you realise there must have been a script as people don't speak in the romantic cliches which fill various scenes throughout the movie.

Now when "You Light Up My Life" was released back in the summer of 1977 I was only 4 years old and it was over 30 years later that I stumbled across it for the first time. I mention this as those who know there music will recognize the title of the movie as a once popular song and it seems that back when "You Light Up My Life" was released it had a big promotional push combined with the title track and unfortunately the promotion over promised on the movie leaving many disappointed. Yes "You Light Up My Life" is not great cinema but thanks to Didi Conn it is still good cinema and almost 40 years later is still watchable.

What this all boils down to is that "You Light Up My Life" is certainly not without its problems and it is a movie which frequently feels awkward. But thanks to Didi Conn's winning personality combined with the enjoyable music it has a certain charm about it.