By James Sweeney | August 28, 2000

The narrator’s father’s name was D. Bosted but he called himself Dumb Bastard (pronounced like “Bosted” if your accent betrays your northeastern roots). Regularly abusive to his wife and child, the father left the home early on, and the narrator assumed that he was dead until finding a letter written to his mother. The film is a poetic visualization of that letter and a follow-up (perhaps imaginary) meeting between the narrator and his drunken father in a bar.
The abusive-childhood-memory film genre is a difficult one. It tends to live in the world of festival short film programs that mostly goes unnoticed by the general public. As with many of these films the catharsis of making it and putting the dialog and visuals onscreen sometimes seems every bit as important than the effectiveness of the filmmaking and storytelling techniques. The problem is that most viewers’ interest ends where the cinematography and storytelling does. Here I would have to rate these aspects as pretty standard. There’s a subtly abstract and slightly surreal sequence depicting the mother and father in the throes of a young romance. It’s dreaminess doesn’t quite match the tone of the letter that is read, but there is some appeal to the lyrical juxtaposition of the whitewashed angelic vision of the mother and the scrubbed blue-collar look of the boyish father, as the self-deprecating and contradictory letter is read aloud. The sequence in the bar is fairly well acted and the writing is solid, but the film as a whole lacks the sort of original spark that would make it really engaging to someone who does not necessarily relate to the life stories that are described.
Who is the mother and why did she choose this man as her husband? What was the final straw that drove him out of the house and what did he really do to merit his son’s hatred? The film is not incomprehensible and yet it falls just short of being satisfying. Keis was passionate enough about making this film and getting these issues off his chest. I just wish he could have directed more of that passion toward getting the audience involved.

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