Some people just should never have children!Therapeutic!!!
KerrLines | Baltimore,MD | 02/02/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"My mother once confessed to me in her 65th year,"Ya know,it took me 65 years to realize that I should have never married and had children in the first place!" This is a very sobering and brutally frank remark from a Mother to her Son,huh?My Father once confessed,"I can't understand how you could feel the way you do,because I am not like that!"Ah,once again,parental words by which a child can form himself,right!? Well, that is exactly what you will get in the film A LOVING FATHER-brutal frankness! Suffice it to say,some people may find this film ridiculous if they have had idyllic childhoods! If your upbringing was NOT the All-American Apple-Pie (or in French-all-French Quiche and good wine) informative years, then THIS FILM IS FOR YOU.You will identify with with the lost and
frustrated feeling of being an adult with parents,or parent,who is SO narcissistic that no one else could possibly exist .
Leo Shepherd (Gerard Depardieu) is a self-absorbed writer who has won The Nobel Prize.He has two children:Virginia,who has been a surrogate to her Father, and Paul (Guillaume Depardieu),who has been the "screw-up"(as he has been lead to think of himself).These three relationships come to a head when,Leo, travelling to Stockhom Sweden to get The Nobel,skids off the road to avoid an accident.The world now thinks he is dead.Paul has been following Leo and picks him up,actually turning the whole scene into a kidnapping.What Paul wants is for his Father to LISTEN.Leo is virtually incapable of that!.YES WORLD,PEOPLE LIKE LEO DO EXIST!The plot thickens when Virginia discovers that her Father is not dead.All three characters have a final and VERY unpleasant and unrewarding EPIPHANY at the end of this film.Leo has never liked his children and his children have been suffering because of it their entire lives.I would not say that this is a GREAT film,but it does capture the thought that some people just should never have children.Having kids does not make you at all a fit and qualified parent.I KNOW THIS FIRST HAND.This film is good for anyone who is currently in therapy or dealing with the extreme damage that a dysfunctional and emotionally barren family can bring.The original French title is far more accurate:AIME MON PERE (MY loving father-almost tongue-in-cheek!)
A suggested companion film on the same subject would be THE MILL ON THE FLOSS."
An unhappy family falls completely apart, all for the better
C. B Collins Jr. | Atlanta, GA United States | 07/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a story of a long conflicted family in which a series of events allows three members of the family to make breaks with the past and move foward.
Leo Shepard, played by Gerard Depardieu, is a French novelist who has just won the Nobel Prize in literature. He is a rugged rural farmer, a dominating father to his daughter and son-in-law, and a womanizer who dominates a string of women who worship him over the years.
His daughter, Virginie, played by Sylvie Testud, has devoted her life to her father, ensuring that everything around him supports him in his writing. She had devoted her life to his talent. In her efforts to create an atmosphere where he can create, she has become obsessive and anorexic. She longs to see the secret manuscript he has supposedly been writing for the last 3 years.
His son, Paul, played by Guillaume Depardieu, is a conflicted soul. As a child he was ignored by his writing obsessed father, beat or punished when he demanded attention, frightened of his father's anger and dominance, and eventually the creator of a 'show-down' to determine whether his father loved his son more than his art. The child Paul destroys a novel that his father had been writing for 5 years. His father nearly drowns him in anger. The child is pulled from the blue ink stained tub by his mother as crippled damaged goods.
All this pain and tension comes to a climax when Leo wins the Nobel prize and decides to take his motorcycle to Stockholm to get his prize. Along the way a series of odd events allows Paul to kidnap his father and give the world the impression that his father had died.
The father and son verbally stab at each other and it is revealed that the son has recovered from years of heroin addiction and alcoholism and is now successful. The father has gradually lost his creative powers. Just as important however is the fact that the son is now able to accept that his father chose his art over his son and that this was not the child's fault.
When they are discovered by the daughter, she must confront the fact that she also has been ignored even though she was always with her father. She has devoted her life to him when in fact he has not written a word in the last 3 years. She has sacrificed for his art, and there is no product.
Virginie is a hysterically neurotic young woman and she jumps overboard in despair. She is saved by her brother Paul, as her father hesitates. Paul emerges from the cold water with Virginie in a new world, different from the life he lead after his mother pulls him from the blue ink bathtub. He has confronted his father, accepted that he is not at fault for wanting love and affection as a child, and he is able to allow his father to play the charade of finding a new existence since he finds it very refreshing to be dead and no longer required to write. Even Virginie is able to let go of her father, to lionize his once great talent, but to let the spent shell move on.
At times the film is flawed with Testud's melodramatic over-acting but the Depardieus were excellent."
Variety film critic Derek Elley's point of view
Jacob Berger | 06/06/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""In a wonderfully sustained section of grumpy but restrained acting, Depardieu Sr. gives the stage to his son, who's more than up to the challenge. Their scenes together, staged almost like a black comedy, are free of both unnecessary verbal violence and ingratiating sentiment, preparing the way for their uneasy truce when the son cuts his father's bonds and they travel on as equals.As Paul opens up emotionally, and Leo reciprocates, we realize they're both damaged goods: The 28-year-old had a spell with drugs, and Leo, once an inveterate womanizer, confesses he's now dried up as a writer. More than once, the pic plays like a twisted version of Ingmar Bergman's '50s classic, "Wild Strawberries," also centered on a distinguished personality recalling his youth and shortcomings as he journeys to accept an award.Jean-Claude Petit's orchestral score turns what could have been a by-the-numbers father-son drama into a kind of emotional thriller, and the sense of dislocation from reality is heightened by Berger's direction, which is speckled with offbeat touches and humor. (Helmer's only previous feature was the 1990 "Angels," followed by telemovie work.) Ending is refreshingly free of saccharine melodrama, with a dreamlike, ironic coda.Supporting cast is solid, with Testud essaying another of her brittle roles as the daughter who can't bear to see her father squander his talent.But the main show is between the two Depardieus, in a piece of casting that resonates beyond their roles onscreen. In this one pic, Gerard reclaims his position as one of Europe's finest actors, after a recent series of unwise choices. Here he settles comfortably into a late-middle-aged persona that doesn't rely on eccentricities or pure physicality, while Guillaume definitely comes of screen age.""
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/26/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"One usually equates Gerard Depardieu with good films, both light and dramatic, French or English. But THE LOVING FATHER just misses. Gerard Depardieu tries to make something out of this script about a father who has neglected his son Paul (played by Guillame Depardieu, his true son) for his writing. If ever there were a dysfunctional family story this is it. Leo (Depardieu) is so successful writer that he has just won the Nobel Prize. His transitional family (daughter Virginie played by Sylvie Testud, and his current live-in bed partner +/- a few others) is ecstatic and plans to go to Sweden for the presentation. Paul tries to contact Leo, but there is too much tension for discourse. Leo has chosen to travel to Sweden via motorcycle and when Paul discovers this, he stalks him. There is an accident and the press prints that Leo is dead; in actuality, Paul has been kidnapped by Leo in order for Paul to force his father to relate to him. The entire family ends up on a ferryboat to cross over to Sweden and mishap follows mishap and there is really no resolution to the story. Director Jacob Berger tries to superimpose action-flick veneer on this weak story but even that doesn't save it. Sometimes movies like this go unnoticed in the theaters for a good reason. Not recommended unless you are a dyed-in-the-wool devotee of Gerard Depardieu!"