Father Images in Recent Movies By Luc Chaput

in 56th International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg

by Luc Chaput

As with James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma, William Evans, deceived by his father’s lack of character, begins to idealize the charismatic chief of robbers Ben Wade for his way with words, with a gun and his fortitude. Several of the movies in international competition were also about the relationship between fathers and sons.

In Outside Love (Uden for kærligheden) from Danish director Daniel Espinosa, Shmuli is squeezed emotionally by being the son of Holocaust survivors and being the father of a motherless son. In Estrellita by Slovenian Metod Pevec, a gifted teenager violinist has to prove to his father that he can be as good a folk musician than a classical one. In Mirush (Blodsbånd) and Tricks (Sztuczki), both boys have to cope with absent fathers who thus become idealized by their sons. Mirush, being the second son, has first to cope with the death of his much older brother before embarking in a journey of self-discovery. The use of basketball by the director serves both as a respite from the family drama and as a way to show that the young actor Nazif Muarremi has talent in both drama and play-acting. Those sport scenes have similarities with some in Ron Shelton’s White Men Can’t Jump (1992) in their con artist description.

Andrzej Jakimowski’s film from Poland, Tricks, concerns Stefek, a boy who lives with his teenage sister and their mother in a poor neighborhood of an unknown Polish town. Tricks is the lighter version of Mirush as Stefek tries to tempt fate in different ways by doing tricks to find his father and the director-screenwriter has good imagination in setting scenes about coincidences, one theme for which already one of his countrymen, Krzysztof Kieslowski, was a master in Blind Chance (Przypadek, 1987). Thus the two worlds in Norway and in Poland are viewed through children’s eyes but with all their imperfections and dramas which is not what we usually want them to see in real life but more often than not, they inevitably do. By idealizing their fathers, those two children come to two different conclusions about life and in both cases; the journey for the spectator because of inspired directing was fruitful.