The Father Image

The Father

By Hanna B. | September 11, 2019

The movie flows easily but, at times, can seem strange for many reasons. The timeline, over a day or two, is not always crystal clear as there is a lot happening in a short amount of time. Besides, one might easily be unsure about when this is happening, or if the village is just stuck in a bygone era, as we often see phones and computers from decades ago, whereas Pavel clearly has a new model. Likewise, the filmmakers created a clever confusion, or strangeness, by having characters only existing as a voice through phones. A communication device that carries an important message for the film it seems (no pun intended!)

Adding to the bizarre of it all, the low-key Bulgarian feature is a succession of absurd yet somehow realistic situations, from a failed seance, to the aforementioned phone call from the dead, or the stealing of a horse, people sleeping naked in the wood next to meteors, a quest for a very specific home-made jam, and a night in jail.

“…continue their exploration of contemporary Bulgaria and people’s old beliefs in black comedy-like segments…”

The script is truly original with a great inspired by a real-event story, but the film is carried by the performances of its leads. Firstly, Barnev as the grounded force who, yet, see all aspects his life since the funeral spiral out of control because of the many lies he keeps telling everyone and maybe himself. Then, Savov, as the grumpy aging yet energetic artist who might be a fool, but a fool with a plan.

In addition, The Father‘s filmmakers continue their exploration of contemporary Bulgaria and people’s old beliefs in black comedy-like segments via the many characters populating the film and the comments (implied or expressed) they made about the state of their lives and their countries.

If these observations, or criticisms, about politics or people as a society, are always present in the background, the heart of the film is addressing something intimately relatable.
It shows viewers an honest dysfunctional relationship between an elderly father and a middle-aged son.

The Father screened at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.

The Father (2019)

Directed and Written: Kristina Grozeva, Petar Valchanov

Starring: Ivan Barnev, Ivan Savov, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

The Father Image

"…intimacy of a road trip in a small car, creating an atmosphere of claustrophobia..."

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