The films in this festival about birth or complicated pregnancies have been so conspicuous. That’s so true that I forgot that there are more films here about death. One such film is The Father, about two men dealing with that life stage.
The film begins with the funeral of Valentina (Maria Bakalova), a Bulgarian woman with her share of mourners. Some of them her are son Pavel (Ivan Barnev) and her husband Vasil. Ivan Savov plays the new widower whose behavior becomes more erratic.
The Father, then, becomes a two headed character study of two men. The film especially explores Vasil as an eccentric character, a symbol of two eras. He both remembers his and Valentina’s communist past and new age and artistically astute present.
Pavel is the less interesting character despite some efforts to make him so. He spends most of his film nagging his father, although Vasil is a handful. There’s also a running gag of him trying to hide Valentina’s death from his wife.
The Father also focuses too much on how drastically different these characters are. That’s especially true with how Pavel’s life in Sofia feels conspicuously absent onscreen. There could have been an exploration of what these two family members have in common.
Nonetheless, there’s a subtlety to how the directors handle their film’s occasional running jokes. This feels refreshing from Hollywood comedies that would go too far on their gags. These directors aimed for an original approach and offered a simplicity cinema needs.