At heart, Light of Day is a tortured family melodrama with a rock ‘n’ roll beat. Renegade daughter Patti Rasnick (Joan Jett) and her younger brother Joe (Michael J. Fox) play in the Barbusters, a talented but routine bar band that performs in taverns around Ohio.
Director Paul Schrader, who also wrote the screenplay, has spread enough guilt around this family to fill a book. Jett has a four-year-old son (Billy Sullivan) but won’t tell anyone who the father is. She hates her mother (Gena Rowlands) despite mom’s attempts to show her God’s way. With the passive father (Jason Miller) and the dutiful son (Fox), this could be anyfamily USA as written by Eugene O’Neill.
Everyone wears their emotions on his sleeve, except Jett who wears them on her shoulder. Escape hatch from all this backbiting is supposed to be rock ‘n’ roll but when one talks too much about the saving grace of music, as Jett does, it tends to come out as childish and silly.
Despite the over-the-edge quality of her character, Rowlands makes even the most ludicrous lines seem feasible. Fox is basically miscast as the good-natured brother who idolizes his sister and tries to cover for her. Jett looks the part and even manages to hit the mark from time to time, but for every hit there’s a miss.