Aime ton père (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This film is also known as A Loving Father and Love Thy Father:

This French language film is about the relationship between an overbearing, genius father and his children. It stars Gerard Depardieu and his own son Guillaume, who probably re-enact some familiar scenes from their own lives. It was written by Jacob Berger, whose own father, the English novelist and art historian John Berger, provided the inspiration for the father figure.

It was nominated for the Golden Leopard at Locarno, the Golden Tulip at Istanbul, the Golden Bayard at Namur, the Golden Shower in Bangkok, the Golden Parachute on Wall Street, the Golden Gloves in Vegas, the Golden Pussycat in Pompano Beach, and the Golden Moose in Medicine Hat. The Medicine Hat Film Festival usually predicts the Oscars quite well, but this time the predictor failed, and Love Thy Father was not nominated.

It would have been if they gave an Oscar for Most Pretentious Film.

OK, I made up most of those film festival awards, but the first three are real. I'm not sure how good a film has to be to be nominated for the Golden Bayard at Namur, but I have never heard of any of the films in the competition. It is restricted to French-language films, so I'm assuming that French words are pretty much the only requirement for the coveted Golden Bayard nomination.

This film is supposed to be some kind of psychological exploration of the psyches of the father and the kids, so it digs deeper than mere reality, delving into imagination, visions, dreams, and hallucinations. Even the "real" things are more "surreal" than anything else. Just to cite one example, the daughter thinks her dad has been killed in an accident. As she waits to identify his body, she holds an imaginary conversation with a non-existent naked dead woman who claims to have been in the accident with her father.

Meanwhile the father, still alive, has been kidnapped by his son, and is in the back seat of the son's car, wrapped up in yellow "police line, do not cross" tape. The two of them enjoy many bitter memories while they create some additional ones.

As for the dialogue: (intone sonorously) "You are anorexic and afraid. Afraid to eat. Afraid to shit." The father, winner of a Nobel Prize in literature, said that to his daughter. I guess that's how Nobel Prize Dudes talk.


Elisabeth Niederer is naked as a talking corpse.

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1

The whole thing reminded me of the Bergman parodies that SCTV used to create. Remember those? People stand arranged around a corpse in a neatly posed tableau. One person says "now is it the harvest, and we shall have wheat", and the others then chant "wheat, wheat, wheat" in unison, while everyone stares vacantly out into the distance. Then they dream of reindeer-herding Lapps, and evil dwarves, and of clocks that keep ticking louder, and louder, and LOUDER.

Well, there you go. I spoiled the whole damned movie for you.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • Even in France they thought this was an arthouse film. It was seen by fewer than 15,000 people, only three of whom showed up without a turtle-neck.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C-. That is the right score if you speak French and like arty, psychological films. If you don't speak French, and/or if you avoid the more pretentious stuff, take a pass on this one.

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