While most films tend to gloss over the more complex and lasting aspects of familial relationships, this film focuses on them. In life, every action is steeped in history, and every action carries with it consequences for good and/or for ill. This film is true to that reality. Daddy Nostalgie examines how people live with the consequences of their actions, how those consequences often echo through the generations, and how we can both love and hate someone at the same time.
What makes this film superior is how the director is able to show the emotional complexity of the characters. They are forced to confront many opposites, such as love and hate, life and death, marriage and divorce. While struggling to remain calm on the surface, each character must try to suppress the emotions being churned up within. Tavernier is able to show how everyone is successful, but only to a point, of maintaining such a false front. All are trying to hide their feelings from the others, but also from themselves. And it is why and how they maintain these facades that make this film both interesting and bittersweet.