Our Father (2014) – By Philip Smolen

 

Jared (Michael Worth) is having a particularly bad day with his father John (Michael Gross) and the son just may be regretting his decision to care for him. That’s because John is in the late stages of dementia and he fights against every decision Jared tries to make for him. All Jared wants to do is give John a bath and put him to bed. However, the father continually fights back and won’t let his son help him. Jared is clearly ready to throw in the towel. After all, John wasn’t a father. He was a monster. He routinely beat his wife and children and made their life a living hell. John’s wife divorced him and she took the children away in order to survive, but even this radical step didn’t change his behavior. But then, when John is looking in the mirror, all of his demons come back to him and in a moment of clarity the aging father reveals several deep secrets about himself to his son. Jared is shocked and unable to comprehend what his father has just told him. Suddenly, this newly revealed traumatic information has put a human face on the monster.

“Our Father” is a 22 minute award winning short film from writer/director Linda Palmer and it is riveting from the opening frame until the final fade out. Palmer jumps right in to the daily problems Jared has with John. There is no buildup. There’s just the agonizing tension and the chance that John could release his frustration with a burst of violence. Jared is determined but is tired of always fighting, while John is ornery and belligerent and much of the time doesn’t even know who Jared is. But John is still haunted by his demons and his dementia gives him the opportunity to tell his story to his son that he has kept to himself for nearly half a century.

This film is full of dazzling acting and Michael Gross and Michael Worth both deliver powerhouse performances. Gross shows us the fear, loss and humiliation John has been holding inside for so long. He gives this monstrous character real humanity and vulnerability. Michael Worth’s intensity matches Gross’s. He portrays Jared as a man of unwavering tenacity who’s determined to help his father despite the treatment he’s been receiving. But Worth also allows you to see the cracks in Jared’s resolve that continually pull at him until John’s revelations finally overwhelm and break him down. Eileen Grubba and David Topp also give strong performances as Jared’s wife and son.

“Our Father” has won numerous awards during its festival run last year and it’s easy to see why. Based on a true story by writer David Mayhak, this is a short film that packs a feature-length emotional wallop. Filled with stunning images by P. J. Gaynard and featuring a beautiful score by Andre Barros, Linda Palmer’s “Our Father” is a tense and emotionally shattering tale. It is an indie cinematic experience of the highest order.

For more information on “Our Father”, please visit: http://www.ourfatherproductions.com