Starring: Fikret Kuşkan, Ege Tanman, Çetin Tekindor
Director: Çağan Irmak
Running Time: 108 mins
My Father And My Son (Babam ve Oğlum) is a Turkish film about a man who returns to his hometown with his young son years after the death of his wife and a feud with his father, in the aftermath of a military coup.
The thing about My Father And My Son is that it’s a solid and engaging family drama bookended by two periods of stunning drama. In that, the film is a strong piece overall, and makes for an engrossing watch, and thanks to great performances across the board, a heartwarming and powerful message, and an exceptional opening sequence, it’s a film that will grab your attention throughout, even if it doesn’t quite manage to deliver all of its story flawlessly.
Let’s start with the film’s opening scene, which is amazing. Focusing on a husband and wife preparing to give birth, it’s an incredibly surprising way to start a film off, directed with powerful emotion and dramatic intensity, and taking you on a rollercoaster of emotions in the space of five or so minutes, something that’s so, so difficult to do right, but works brilliantly here to grab your attention straight away.
After that, we take a jump forward a few years to where the son is now a young boy, and the father decides to take him back to his hometown after the death of his wife.
Coming in straight from the incredible intensity of the film’s opening scene, I was still expecting the same level of drama, but that’s not exactly what I got as the second act gets going.
For me, this part of the film is easily the most flawed, as it fails to capitalise on the brilliance of that opening sequence and keep such a riveting dramatic intensity up, instead falling back to something a lot more relaxed, to the point where it feels like you’re watching a completely different genre of film, frustratingly disconnected from the events of that first scene.
Secondly, the way in which the tensions at the man’s family home are laid out seem like they’ve been written in reverse. Upon returning to his hometown where he has not been since leaving for the city in a huff after a feud with his father, it appears that his father is still unwilling to confront him.
However, the film goes about telling that story in a misguided non-linear fashion, and unnecessarily leaves you in the dark about the tensions in the two men’s relationship, while everything else appears to be completely fine. It’s clear that the screenplay is trying to create mystery and more drama around their relationship, but I felt that things were too vague and messily told at this point of the story to make it so.
So, that’s where the film really falls down, failing to take the momentum of a stunning opening scene and instead getting tangled up in an unnecessarily convoluted opening to the second act. Once things settle down, however, the film becomes a lot more fluid, a lot more elegant, and a lot more engrossing, as we see our man and his young son bonding with their long-estranged family, and coming to adapt to the countryside lifestyle, all building up to a final act that’s once again full of drama, and well worth the wait despite the messy beginning to the second act.
Moving away from the story structure, I have to say that the film’s elegance is undoubtedly one of its strongest characteristics, as director Çağan Irmak is able to create a strong sense of both nostalgia and deep family bonds throughout, paving the way for both an affecting and heartwarming central message.
And in the end, that’s what I really appreciated most about this film. It tells an engaging story with moments of high drama, but at its core, it’s a film that simply emphasises the importance of family, and how family members share a bond that can help anyone through adversity, a central theme that pervades throughout every conversation and argument throughout the film, and something that really moved me come the end of the story.
Overall, I was impressed by My Father And My Son, an elegant drama complete with an exceptional opening scene of drama, and a strong final act of emotion, all centred around a beautifully heartwarming and powerful theme of family. It’s not quite a flawless film, and its messy second act really took me out of the moment at the time, but on the whole, it’s an engrossing and powerful watch, which is why I’m giving it a 7.7.