Like Father
Three generations. The Elliott men have a lot to deal with (Armstrong, Dent and Kelly).
dir-scr Amber (Richard Grassick, Ellin Hare, Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Murray Martin, Pat McCarthy, Lorna Powell, Peter Roberts)
with Joe Armstrong, Jonathon Dent, Ned Kelly, Anna Gascoigne, Derek Walmsley, Willie Ross, Brian Hogg, Ashley Gutsell, Jackie Surtees, Peter Dogherty, Jay Foulds, Denise Dobson
release UK 15.Jun.01
00/UK 1h34

2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Written, directed, produced, photographed and edited by the cooperative Amber group, Like Father is a surprisingly un-experimental film! It's a straightforward drama about three generations of men whose lives and perspectives are shaped by their environment. At the centre is the 40-year-old Joe (Armstrong), a former miner who now works as an entertainer and music teacher. But his aimless life has alienated his wife (Gascoigne), and when she asks him to move out his life crumbles. Their 10-year-old son Michael (Dent) finds himself the victim of bullying at school, both from other students and his teachers, at a time when he certainly doesn't need added stress. Meanwhile, Joe's 70-year-old father Arthur (Kelly) is still bitter about the closing of the mine years ago, and now his precious allotment is about to be bulldozed by property developers ... over his dead body!

The gentle rhythms of the film are startlingly realistic, and the filmmakers capture authentic emotions and relationships between the characters, who are all played with natural authenticity by first-time actors. And yet, all this true-life faithfulness leaves the film lacking a dramatic force at its centre; it just meanders through a very thin storyline, happy to unearth issues and ideas but never dealing with them. We always feel like observers--nothing grabs us--and the life we're watching is both dead boring and stuck in the past, which is admittedly powerful and still has a strong impact on the region. And while it does have the ability to get us thinking, it's more like a museum piece than a feature film, putting the culture and history on screen without commenting on it in a way that engages or moves us like it should.
themes, language cert 15 12.Jun.01

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"Excellent movie. Would loved to have seen the beginning. I happened to be surfing the TV channels when I came on it. Only missed about half hour of it. First class acting by all (especially Joe). Congratulations." --Terence Wilson-Winship, Sydney 28.Feb.03
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall