In writer/director John Helde’s feature film, Phoebe’s Father, a family struggles to move on from a life-changing event that shook the family decades ago. The story shows that it’s never too late to move on to the next chapter of one’s life.
Phoebe (Marie Lazarro) is a woman who is coasting along in life. She lives with her friend and landlord, Meg (Betty Campbell), and has not yet found the passion in her life for anything. Phoebe’s state of being stems back to the moment her mother gave up on her and her family. After quitting her long-time job over ethical concerns, Phoebe is now a lowly bookkeeper for a bike shop.
“Phoebe’s life is upended when…she runs into her father…at a park.”
Phoebe’s life is upended when, while on a job-mandated bike ride, she runs into her father, Ben (Lawrason Driscoll), at a park. The encounter is brief, and Phoebe manages to get away with only terse words. But it’s only a matter of time until her brother, Whit (Eric Jordan), visits and tells her that their father is sick and his health is not improving. He then tricks Phoebe into meeting her father to discuss details in case of his passing.
The theme of Phoebe’s life and her family surrounds the repercussions of the disappearance of the matriarch. Phoebe was a very young girl when her mother left and has no memory of her. Ben was devasted by his wife leaving, and it left him emotionally despondent and unavailable to his children. Whit subconsciously keeps all his relationships at arm’s length, as witnessed by the deterioration of his second marriage. As a result, all three have become estranged from one another over the years.
When it comes to reviewing films, I usually like to watch them cold and let the final cut speak for itself. In the case of Phoebe’s Father, I was left with certain feelings that compelled me to find out the film’s origins. Right off the bat, I could tell that writer/director John Helde and his cast have an extensive theater background. Phoebe’s Father plays out like, well, a play.
"…I had no clue that the story had an improvisation background..."