It tells the story of Romulus, his beautiful wife, Christina, and their struggle in the face of great adversity to bring up their son, Raimond. It is a story of impossible love that ultimately celebrates the unbreakable bond between father and son.
Raimond Gaita (1946 - ) comes of age in Frogmore, Victoria in the early 1960s. His parents are immigrants: his Romanian father farms; his German mother, Christina, estranged from Romulus, is in Melbourne. Romulus is near despair when she takes up with the brother of his best friend, who suggests he send for a new wife from back home. For Rai, poverty, bruises, and the mysterious ways of adults compete with his longing for a stable home and his own incipient puberty. Love and madness lie in the same bed. As an old woman tells Rai, "Sometimes what you reckon and what you get ain't the same thing." Written by
In the scene in the diner in which Christina plays a record on the jukebox, the jukebox is marked "Stereophonic." In 1962, stereophonic jukeboxes didn't exist and 45 rpm records (which is what the jukebox in the film plays) were mono only. See more »
Excuse me, who was that singing?
Girl on the porch:
Jerry Lee Lewis. They call him the Killer.
Girl on the porch:
Because he kills people I guess.
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I watched Romulus, My Father, without high expectations. In many respects, those low expectations were met. In typically Aussie film-making fashion, there were long, languid shots of dry, arid landscapes; long silences and meaningful faraway looks; and a film that doesn't so much flow as consist of a series of short, static scenes. As noted elsewhere, it's a difficult film to watch.
It's also a brilliant, beautiful piece of film-making. In no short part, this is due to the actors assembled. Before watching it, I didn't know that Franka Potente featured in the film, and her presence alone adds another dimension to the movie. Eric Bana is a fine actor - as with "Munich", he seems ill at ease at first, but gradually blends into the role adding layers of complexity and subtlety. Martin Csokas is always a welcome addition to any screen. But, of course, the real star is young Kodi Smit-McPhee. The magnificence of this film, for me, was the aching beauty of the way it portrayed the desperate sadness that so often accompanies childhood. Nobody, literally nobody, could have portrayed this better than this young boy.
I thought of other superb child acting performances - Anna Paquin in "The Piano", Christian Bale in "Empire of the Sun", Rory Culkin in "You Can Count On Me", Kirsten Dunst in "Interview With the Vampire", Eamonn Andrews in "The Butcher Boy" - then I thought of the kids in "Turtles Can Fly", "A Time for Drunken Horses", "The White Balloon", Misha Philipchuk in "The Thief", the Indian boy whose name escapes me in "Salaam Bombay". There are heaps of outstanding performances by kids in meaningful movies, and Smit-McPhee's ranks right up alongside the very best of them.
Everybody concerned with this film deserves congratulations - the director, the writers, the cinematographers. I haven't seen too many really great Australian films - maybe "Muriels Wedding", "Swimming Upstream", "The Tracker" - but this one is right up there.
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