Paternity Case

by robbiefreeling
June 9, 2008 4:42 AM
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Based on British writer Blake Morrison's 1993 memoir, When Did You Last See Your Father?, directed by Anand Tucker (Hilary and Jackie, Shopgirl), is a slightly awkward revisiting of the classic melodramatic story wherein a son or daughter must deal with the death of an adversarial parent. At once over-reliant on the visual clich├ęs of its genre (oversaturated light for outdoor scenes, metaphor-reflecting mirrors for indoor ones, slow-motion everywhere) and thoroughly unabashed in juxtaposing the gravity of mortality with the uncouth avenues of expression people take to get through it, the film oscillates wildly between middlebrow preciousness and a genuinely messy understanding of what could very well have been in other hands by-the-numbers Oedipal angst.

When Did You Last See Your Father? is the rare kind of film that can sandwich its inevitable death scene between a depiction of our protagonist's interrupted bathtub masturbation and a lascivious reunion with a former lover, but also the typical film that unimaginatively merges a past and present father-son embrace in a circling 360-degree shot accompanied by flute and string tremolos. Click here to read the rest of Michael Joshua Rowin's review of When Did You Last See Your Father?.

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