Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reflecting on Father Roles in 2010 Films

2010 seems like it was a lousy year for Dad's in films. And maybe I'm missing a beautiful perforamnce of a father figure, and if so, fill me in - but Dad's seem like they really drop the ball or have no role at all.

If I were to chose one respectful film for fatherly roles it would be The King's Speech and it's very much a default choice based on the fact that the two central real life characters King George VI (Colin Firth) and Lionel Logue (Geoffery Rush) are both fathers, and really seem like they're attempt to live valuable lives in their respective careers and roles is an extension of their desire to provide and tend to their family.

But apart from King George VI turning his daughters (Elizabeth & Margeret) to the royal care of his wife and court, the onscreen time for such a story is limited and the relationship relatively unexplored.

Otherwise, where father-roles do play a bigger part they seem to represent the role of Father in less than glamourous way.

I write this thinking of Mark Ruffalo's role as the contacted sperm donor in The Kids Are All Right, who really didn't have the chance at all to be a father, and when given the opportunity really flubs it up with personal indiscretion.

Another similar example of a dad flubbing up family life with personal choices is Oliver Platt's character in Please Give, but I've already complained about that film.

I think of Winter's Bone where Ree Dolly has to place herself in personal danger in order to help save her younger siblings minimal sense of stability as a result of their father crime activity and skipping bale.

Even in the film Inception, there is a negative father relationship in the film between the ailing Maurice Fischer (Pete Postlethwaite) and his son and heir Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy) who will inherit his father's energy empire when he dies.

But beyond that, more than these negative father roles I also just notice a general absence of stories involving fathers.

Sometimes that is a functional part of the story, such as in True Grit where the story essentially begins with the death of the father, and perhaps it could be argued that the way Mattie Ross is able to carry herself and honor her father is a testimony of the way her father has raised her.

Other father excluding films worth mentioning (and again this is often a simple function of the story) include The Social Network, 127 Hours, The Ghost Writer, The Town, Letters to Juliet, Toy Story 3, Never Let Me Go...and the list could go on.

Help me find the exception, but please don't suggest that the best representation of a father in cinema was Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson in the film The Tooth Fairy.

(pictured above King George VI and his royal family as portrayed in The King's Speech watching a film together)


Deborah said...

well the original father is missing but Jackie Chan's character in the Karate Kid seems to take over as the father figure for Jaden Smith's character

Elloise said...

Sure, there is that bad dad in Inception, but you missed the main one - Cobb. The ENTIRE movie revolved around him trying to anything to get back to his kids. It's kind of like only reporting half of the story if you leave that part out.