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I saw this movie the night before last - it goes to World Wide Release
in 6 days time. The movie is an absolute must see - I don't think I can
put it better than Helen Garner when she said "I can't think of a
single Australian movie with such a dense and complex emotional
texture. I know I will never forget it."
The story is uplifting in spite of tragedy of truly Shakespearean proportions. One of the most inspiring things is that Raimond not only survived but grew up to be as he is - the story is about the unbreakable bond between Father and Son, I was often in tears. Romulus was a "Very Good Man" (almost a Saint). We also get a keen understanding of the love of man for his fellow man, from the relationship between Hora and Romulus and especially between Romulus and Mitru.
The time and place is evoked beautifully as well as the colossal struggle that postwar migrants went through in Australia. Most readers will either not know or not remember that these were hard times indeed, in 1961 the Federal Government instituted a credit squeeze which almost destroyed the Australian Economy. The country people suffered much, as did the city people also.
The actors are brilliant - Eric Bana, Marton Csokas, Franka Potenta (you can't take your eyes off her whenever she is on screen - the woman is startlingly beautiful) and Russell Dykstra - all are perfect for the roles. The standout performance however is from the new child actor Kodi Smit-McPhee - he is a discovery on the order of another Haley Joel Osment, Keisha Castle-Hughes or Christian Bale. The boy is in almost every scene and he carries the production almost entirely on his little shoulders.
After the film, I recommend the book - it is beautifully written and easy to read and will explain what happened to all the characters as well as a lot of the subtext (the film coves a period of about four years in Raimond's life - from age 9 to about 13). The final point is that you have to pay attention to the film carefully - subtlety is the word here and dialogue is spare - you really need to look at the people to understand what is going on.
My wife and I watched this excellent movie several hours ago in
Fremantle and we both share similar feelings about this engrossing yet
difficult film. My comment is in no way meant to demean anything about
the film, rather it is simply a sign-post to direct some people to
other films because it is a difficult movie to watch; it fleshes in
segments of people's lives that, as a rule, are not brought to
light--they remain closeted and spoken of in muted voices when they are
spoken of at all.
In my opinion, Australian movies are a massively unique sub-species of what could generally be tagged "art-house" movies--movies that are drawn in colours that do not reflect anything remotely from Hollywood. These movies have certain characteristics: they are most obviously short on dialogue; the Australian landscape is so strong that it becomes another principle character in the film; there is not even a hint of "glitz"; the script is as close to reality as any viewer would likely want to get and the cinematography is bold, using close-ups and strong contrasts to accentuate the on-screen drama. Romulous, My Father had all of these elements and they were masterfully blended into an unforgettable movie.
The script was based on the memoirs of the boy who dominates the movie. Eric Bana, the father, takes top billing but the son is equal to Bana's brilliant portrayal. Diane and I talked on the way home today that we knew adults who were that boy. We did not know these families when the friends were small but we know the elements that combined to mirror the script we just watched on the screen. Change a few scenes here and there and it is all so similar. Australia is the story we saw today many times repeated.
I would recommend this film to Australians because it is the story of our neighbors or workmates and I would recommend it to people from the world over as a quintessential Australian film as well as an insight into who we are.
I could not speak more highly of this film. It is flawlessly realised
and I plead with anyone serious about film-making as a sincere form of
high art to support this film. I have never experienced anything that
is richer with real emotional substance and that conveys a convergence
of humanity with more dignity.
Furthermore, I have never seen an ensemble of actors grasp the very essence of a story so powerfully and accurately. Each performer, even the youngest, is acutely aware of the history of their character and the significance of each and every moment that is being so beautifully captured.
For me, dissecting this movie in any way would be like sitting outside in the rain during a sunshower and trying to explain what was right or wrong with the situation.
'Romulus, My Father' confirms, without question, that Australian Filmaking has come of age.
After watching Romulus, My Father I was really impressed with how realistic and convincing the performances were in this film. The acting was superb especially Eric Bana and the boy and I was really drawn into the film. I completely forgot about everything else and felt like I was right there. The acting was so convincing, the sounds, the scenes, the mood and the whole atmosphere in the film really pulled me in. At times during the first half of the film it was slightly slow-moving but this was mainly due to a lot of good character development and getting to know the setting, and we really get to know the boy in the film. Some of Eric Bana's moments near the end of the film were just amazing. Although he was great throughout the whole film, he really did hit the mark near the end. It's just the way that his character gradually changed that amazes me and it looks like he really did put a big effort into his performance because it is (or very close to) the performance of his career so far. As an Aussie, I've been disappointed with a few recent Aussie films but this one was no disappointment. Some people may find it a little slow-moving to begin with but easily makes up for that with all of its great qualities and an ending that may draw some tears from some people. 8/10
A broken family have a growing boy at his early teenage years and have
no sense of responsibility to grow a child. Considering that both
mother and the father is uneducated and clueless, they live in a farm
before the World War II; we still have no idea upon why they ruin a
child's life making a havoc of his psychology.
Proved by adversity the family have nothing to distinguish their boy, nor to give anything to make him happy, nor to teach him anything precisely good. Father gets to figure out that the kid needs a college education, and sends him to a college. Then after the suicide of the mother, the boy gets closer to his father. A happy ending occurs and mops up all the pain and unpleasant situations out of the movie, and hopefully out of the boy's memory. Thus, his father taught him one thing, a very important one, how to be patient of adversity.
For a tough story to put on silver screen, the actors' performances are somewhat exhilarating; and that's the mainspring to tolerate this movie. Within low-budget movies with no technical endeavors, if you like to witness a modest triumph of a child, much better than My Father Romulus, I advise you to watch "I am David".
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.
Arena Films in Sydney Australia have developed and produced some of the
best small films made here in the last ten years. I have seen ROMULUS;
I saw it at a media screening in Sydney mid April 2007. I understand
the film will go into release in May 2007. Helmed by John Maynard and
Robert Connolly, Arena are responsible for THE BANK, THE BOYS with
David Wenham, and SWEETIE among their excellent library of films.
However this time, I am delighted to say they have managed to create a
film so genuinely superb, so astonishingly well cast and with a major
turn as director by actor Richard Roxburgh, I find myself actually
struggling for adequate superlatives as to not sound like I am
overstating the quality and qualities of this profoundly satisfying and
emotionally moving father/son relationship drama. Set in the early
1960s in rural Victoria Australia, it basically tells of the marriage
difficulties of a migrant family from eastern Europe. It is the mother
with wanderlust that causes the central emotional drama and ripples of
overwhelming joy and despair as the men around her, husband his brother
and her lovers, and including her 8 year old son Raimond, attempt to
hold their extended family together, survive on a farm, and deal with
her fracturing emotions. I was the same age as the boy in this film in
1961 and I lived in Sydney among many migrant families from Europe who
had moved post WW2 to find a better life here. Many did but equally as
many became bewildered in Australia, emotionally lost because they had
lost the thread of their village life and European life/morality and
found their freedom here created mental and moral abandon... they
became lost and found the new country too huge too free and too full of
emotional pitfalls: it was just too different: sunny and open yes, but
no family bonds and not strong with religious ties. As a result
emotional inertia and immorality and sometimes drink and violence took
over; just as often was a nervous breakdown. ROMULUS charts all this
with skill and motion like no other major new film in the last ten
years has been able to do. David Elfick's 1993 film NO WORRIES maybe,
or CAREFUL HE MIGHT HEAR YOU from 1983 are very close past emotional
and critical successes; this film certainly surpasses them in the
child's eye view of a marriage and a family collapse. The casting is
just so perfect and I defy anyone to not to be absolutely transfixed at
the young boy actor Kodi Smitt who is front and center at all times
here. His performance is one of the great child acting performances in
any film; period, ever. Richard Roxburgh as an actor is very good, but
who knew (apart from savvy Connolly and Maynard) that he could create a
visually breathtaking emotionally solid and superbly told story; so
often in a dozen scenes he shows one more shot of Raimond just being,
as a tail end of the scene and it caps every part of this film
perfectly each time. ROMULUS sets a new standard for excellent
emotional drama produced here are hopefully erases the bad credit and
ill feelings of so many useless and lousy films produced here so far
this century:. So many cinemas and their owners have been wringing
their hands in despair at the poor results of so many terrible Oz films
The good ones? try these: KENNY, THE BANK, RABBIT PROOF FENCE and THE OYSTER FARMER being the only real shining lights in a very dim recent release schedule. ROMULUS MY FATHER will go into history as one of Australia's best produced films and I personally hope it is loved and applauded Internationally as I expect it to be here.
On the down side: Arena have taken a serious risk in involving Arclight films in an executive production and sales partner role here; Arclight exec producers have been seen for over 10 years as being responsible for some of Australia's worst and most reviled and truly embarrassing films: often critically spewed upon and a complete waste of resources and reputation: for example: the vile cruel CUT or the disgusting WOLF CREEK or CUBBYHOUSE, or lame DECK DOGZ, or idiotic SHOTGUN WEDDING or nonevent BACK OF BEYOND or woeful EXCHANGE LIFEGUARDS are simply hated by the few viewers who wasted time on them or by cinemas who took a chance on them. The appalling WOLF CREEK is now credited with being the start of thew 'torture porn' cycle currently debasing cinemas and communities encouraged to see them (HOSTEL and HOSTEL PART 2 is a direct result of this awful movie)... so I hope Arena survive their relationship with Arclight.
I managed to catch this movie at the Singapore International Film
Festival.It was only one of the few movies that I was interested in
catching because the story intrigued me.Not to mention that it had a
great cast too. So Romulus My Father is story centered around young
Raimond and his relationships with his dad Romulus and his mother
Christina.Both Romulus and Christina are migrants settling in Australia
and we see the emotional toll that happens between the three of them
and also with Hora and Mitru both playing a big part in the lives of
From the moment Romulous stars you have this strong feeling that your in for a great movie.And trust me,during those hundred and four minutes you will see a great story of courage,love and betrayal.It is a very emotional story and brilliantly made.You just know that everyone involved in this movie put their heart and soul into it and their efforts have certainly paid off.Romulous My Father is a story that everyone can identify with.The characters in this movie and their actions leave you thinking even long after the movie has ended.
Performances naturally are one of the highpoints for this film.Nothing new for Bana and Potente here.Both of them are great which is nothing surprising here since both are very talented actors.Suppoting cast is great too,Martion Csokas and Russel Dykstra are moth magnificent.But the real show-stealer here is the young but talented Kodi Smit McPhee who plays the young Raimond.His role is not an easy role to portray yet he does it with such confidence. You feel for him,for everything he has to go through with his parents and every scene he's in is just brilliant.Move over Dakota Fanning,this kid is here to stay! Romulus my father is one solid drama, with a captivating story that everyone can relate to. Not to mention is vibrant cinematography and top-notch acting. Its one of the films where it deserves a bigger release and seen by a wider audience. One can only hope that happens.
This is a an extremely compelling and moving film. I just cannot get
the story and characters out of my head.
The casting was absolutely perfect, each and every actor was incredibly well chosen and there is no hint of Hollywoodness about any of them. Kodi Smit-McPhee is unbelievable in the role of Raymond Gaita, I almost never wish to see him in any other role and want to remember him as Raymond forever.
It is quite difficult to get hold of this book which I'm keen to do to read the aspects of the story which the film didn't cover. I had read the book reviews so was aware of the family's past history but my husband found some parts a little confusing - he felt it would have been beneficial to focus some time on the Gaita's initial arrival in Australia and how this affected each character. He found it a great movie but a little 'arty'. Lots of the story is non-verbal and you can read the story in the faces of the characters and the feeling of the landscape. I loved this movie and would highly recommend it to everybody!
I just saw this and though a lot of people complained of this movie being slow I adored it. One of our best Australian movies to date. It has a moving story, terrific and very realistic actors but the only problem was the pace. Everything was brilliant but it just avoided perfect with its pace which is a bit of a let down for a movie that everyone knows could have been and kind of is everything. Eric Bana is brilliant and the wife Franka Potente was so good I really understood her character. The movie was a bit predictable at times but it had a sweet ending, interesting character and superb character development. A must see for people probably over thirteen. (Some of the themes are very strong.)
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