Romulus, My Father (2007) Poster

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Beautiful, Evocative and Profoundly Moving Film
AndersNielssen24 May 2007
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.
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A quintessential Australian movie.
diane-344 June 2007
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.
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An amazing story with truly convincing performances
worstpirateever3 June 2007
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
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If you are serious about films.... seriously see this movie.
refusetm18 June 2007
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.
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tainted_perfection14 April 2008
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 those three.

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.
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a truly great new Australian film.
ptb-818 April 2007
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 of late.

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.
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A typical, yet atypical, Australian movie
eucalyptus99 November 2007
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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Very special movie - an Australian classic for sure
tellytubbymama29 July 2007
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!
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Australian cinema tour de force within a modest, yet unpleasant display
CihanVercan22 September 2008
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".
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Truly moving picture
the-gossip-king8 February 2008
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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ozmikej7 December 2007
Congratulations Eric - Best Actor, Kodi - Best Young Actor (Great acceptance speech.) It is very unlikely you will fade into obscurity in the future, Richard - Best Director, 'Romulus My Father' Best picture Australian Film Institute Awards Dec. 2007. Obviously one of the top Aussie films and treats the immigrant experience with warmth and understanding. Kodi Smit is set to become one of the best Aussie actors as Eric Bana already is. What else is there to say I totally agree with the previous comment: If you are serious about movies, seriously see this movie. Not one bad acting performance in the entire cast. Richard you should reconsider your statement that you will now only act from now on.
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An Astute View of a Very Unusual Man
nturner7 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
An astute view of a very unusual man and his relationships with his wife, son, and friends, Romulus, My Father contains a film-making mystery for me. While watching this excellent film, I kept asking myself how a boy of only eleven would be able to perceive situations and follow through with actions of someone much older. Having taught numerous eleven year old boys during my career, I found the thoughts and actions of Raimond extraordinary. I put it down to Raimond being a very bright child with wisdom beyond his years. I now find that the real Raimond Gaita was born in 1946, so he would have been fourteen to seventeen years of age during the time of the story rather than the ten to thirteen year old depicted in the film. It is beyond my comprehension why the director chose a younger boy for this part.

Romulus is an Eastern European immigrant striving to make a life for himself and his son in 1960's Australia. He ekes out a meager existence working a small farm and making wrought iron furniture. It is his dream to earn enough to send his son, Rai to private school. Romulus's canon could be "Don't Make Waves" as he perpetually seeks calmness and compliance. This is shown is a small way when he is addressed as "Jack" at a local restaurant. Romulus explains to his son the "Jack" is his Australian name as the locals would be uncomfortable with his foreign name.

Romulus's greatest tolerance comes in his relationship with his wife, Christina. We find that she lives in Melbourne with another man and chooses to occasionally visit her husband and son. She is welcomed by her husband whenever she chooses to visit, and he even quietly accepts that she has had a child with another man who was a good friend to Romulus. In one of the reviews of this film I read, the writer compared Romulus with a saint. No matter the metaphor used to describe him, he certainly behaves in a way not expected of a man whose wife totally rejects his love.

During all this, Rai continues to cherish his mother and even spends time during vacations caring for his half-sibling as well as his mother who suffers bouts of severe depression.

Romulus has a very good friend from his mother country, Hora who visits often and offers whatever emotional support and advice possible. Hora also acts as somewhat of a surrogate father for Rai as Romulus is often detached and emotionally distant. Hora is embarrassed by the fact that it is his brother, Mitru who is the father of Christina's second child and this causes a rift between the brothers.

The acting in this piece quiet and understated and superbly portrays these emotionally bound people.

Eric Bana shows Romulus as a kind-hearted but emotionally closed man who is placed in a situation without a solution. Far more than half of his performance is conveyed through facial expressions and body language, and these leave no doubt as to the storm of emotions boiling in this tortured man.

Christina is given her bi-polar life expertly by German actress, Franka Potente who shows us a woman whose highs and lows make her a fascinating and irresistible character.

Best friend, Hora is portrayed with strength by Marton Csokas, and his weak-willed brother, Mitru, is given life expertly by Russell Dykstra.

Even though he is way too young for the part, Kodi Smit-McPhee gives a memorable performance as Raimond. His talent is clear, but I still continue to be vexed by the fact that the real Raimond was considerably older during the actual events depicted in this film.

Raimond Gaita became a very successful man which is a tribute to the strength of the human spirit. This film is his story, and it expertly shows the genes of strength, moral character, and emotion contributed by his parents as well as the leveling love and maturity given by his surrogate father - all combining to succor the growth of a boy into a man of worth.
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Beautifully filmed "slice of Life"
GypsyGeo13 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I doubt if Hollywood could ever make a film like this. The photography was beautiful, and the characters were excellent. The most striking feature was the way the story was constructed - often without dialog. The languid pace gave a pastoral view of a time in post war Australian history, when migration was so important to national growth. Many 'New Australians' would identify with the plight of this family. It was so true to life - not relying on any formal 'formula' plot, but told as it happened with all the inconsistencies of real life. Anyone looking for police chases, explosions, or over the top effects should look elsewhere. This film is for connoisseurs of fine films. It takes its time to unravel the subtle story of a man desperate to find love, but betrayed by his wife, his overseas girl-friend, and his brother. Only his son stays loyal to him, and he finally understands what really matters. It is not the stuff of daydreams, but the presence of people in his life who really matter, that make the difference. If you love fine films, this is 'must see' material.
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A Very Fine Movie
sddavis639 January 2013
This is what I would call a "slice of life" movie that works, and it works pretty well. It's based on the memoirs of Raimond Gaita, who's now a philosopher and writer, and details what seem to be just a couple of summers in his childhood. And it's a troubled childhood - one that undoubtedly gave him fodder for becoming a philosopher, because one would have to spend a lot of time figuring out what life's about after being raised in that environment.

The title character is Raimond's dad, obviously, Romulus. That part was played by Eric Bana. Bana was quite good and quite convincing in the role. The Gaita family came to Australia from Germany in 1950. Romulus was Romanian, married to a German woman, Christina, played by Frankie Potenta. Christina was obviously emotionally ill, flitting in and out of the family's life, obviously interested in Raimond (who's quite devoted to his mother) but totally incapable of being a mother to him. Romulus is hard-working and devoted, but heavily burdened by raising Raimond essentially alone, with help from a wide and diverse array of family and friends. Eventually he has a breakdown himself and lands in a mental hospital.

As good as Bana (and, for that matter, Potenta) was, it's really Kodi Smit-McPhee as Raymond who stole the show. Large parts of this movie are pretty slow (with sudden outbursts caused by the various trials the family is undergoing) but you develop an interest in Raimond's story, and there comes a point when you feel real pain for him; real sympathy; wondering how in the world he's going to ever be able to overcome this kind of upbringing. Smit-McPhee draws us very powerfully into Raimond's life. It was a fine piece of work by a very young actor.

Not knowing anything about the background of the movie, it was made more powerful when I realized that Raymond was a real person, and that the movie was based on his memoirs. That he could obviously become successful after such a troubled upbringing is a great credit to him. (7/10)
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Rai and his Father
Chrysanthepop16 September 2009
Richard Roxburgh has picked a difficult story to tell through a motion picture. For a first timer, he doesn't do a bad job. Through his cinematographer, he captures the raw Australian landscape beautifully and contrasts it well with the 'depression' of that time. He extracts phenomenal performances from his actors. He also displays the subtle layers quite effectively and seems to have an understanding of how difficult things were during that time. The only problem is that 'Romulus, My Father' moves at an extremely slow pace and some of the events appear patchy rather than smooth. Eric Bana does an excellent job. Marton Csokas is superb. Franka Potente handles a difficult role with élan. Child actor Kodi Smit-McPhee is terrific as Rai who is torn between his parents. The background score has a subtle effect. 'Romulus, My Father' reminded me of 'Angela's Ashes' but in my opinion, the latter remains a superior film.
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Not just a planet in Star Trek. Apparently.
natashabowiepinky10 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I've seen 4 films today... and this is the only one I sorta liked. What are the chances, eh?!

It's a biographical piece, revolving around a kid in 1960's Australia, who apparently grew up to be a great philosopher. He arrived Down Under as an immigrant, and seems quite happy in his little community. During the events of the movie though his mother and stepfather will commit suicide, his real father will be committed to a mental institution and all his pet chickens will be either shot, pummeled with a shovel or buried alive. So, this isn't one to give you the warm fuzzies.

What it is though, is a decent period piece, with a fantastic young actor playing the lead: Expressive and natural in front of the camera, this kid's gonna go places, you hear? *Lights Cigar* He also seems to be the only sane person around, and all the adults mess up to varying degrees, leaving him to deal with the consequences. With such mental fortitude, it's no surprise he went on to forge such a good future for himself.

Yep. Enjoyed it. 6/10
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A Philosopher Concerned with Ethics Reflects on His Childhood
gradyharp27 April 2008
Raimond Gaita is not a name widely known to the world outside Australia where he serves as a professor of philosophy, writing extensively on 'skepticism (moral, of other minds and of the external world), on the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of psychology, on aspects of political philosophy (collective responsibility, the role of moral considerations in politics, genocide and the alleged uniqueness of the Holocaust), on education (the nature of teaching as a vocation, the role of love in learning and the plight of the universities) and on Wittgenstein's philosophy of mind and language'. After this filmed version of his memoir ROMULUS, MY FATHER, he may well gain a larger audience. This low budget film uses fewer words than silences and actions to depict the childhood of Gaita in the period around 1960. For many it may seem an aimless, prolonged, sad film, but for others it will deliver a life force in a sensitive child that is indomitable.

Romulus Gaita (Eric Bana) immigrated to Australia from Yugoslavia with his wife Christina (Franka Potente) and their son Raimond (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Romulus works as a blacksmith and farmer to support his family: Christina is not happy with the confinement of marriage and motherhood and finds frequent reasons to have promiscuous jaunts away from her small house and maternal duties. Romulus and Raimond are very close and find ways to exist without Christina, especially when Christina has an extended affair with a family friend Mitru (Russell Dykstra) and has a child by him. Despite warm support from Raimond and his best friend Hora (Marton Csokas), Romulus decompensates and his radical behavior results in his hospitalization in a mental institution. How Raimond's bond with his beloved father endures despite the endless tragedies that befall his 'home' provides the closure of this tender memoir.

Nick Drake provides the screenplay from Gaita's book, Richard Roxburgh directs, Basil Hogios provides the sparse musical score for Geoffrey Simpson's magnificent cinematography of the desolate plains of Australia. But it is the solid performances by Eric Bana and Kodi Smit-McPhee as father and son that make this film so memorable. Grady Harp
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Pretty good - far from great
jeffpen18 December 2007
The book was a favorite in our house, and the locales were my childhood home area. While I thought Richard Roxburgh followed Raimond Gaita's book pretty faithfully; that the cinematography was splendid; and that there were fine acting performances by Kodi Smit-McPhee and Eric Bana, overall it came up short for me.

The reason: the dialogue was simply too sparse. I could be corrected, but I can't recall any scene where more than two, perhaps three very short sentences were exchanged. Throughout, people hardly spoke - the result being that it relied too heavily on languorous, meaningful looks and pregnant silences. And I agree with a criticism voiced elsewhere on this film's site, that this is a hallmark of Australian films, an over-used indulgence.

How I suffered that watching Rowan Woods's endless lingering facials of Cate Blanchett in 'Little Fish' last year. Its a great face and she's a great actress - but the treatment just drove me to distraction in that case.Boring! Returning to 'Romulus, My Father,' it's just a personal view, but I thought some selective voice-over narration by the boy Raimond would have assisted the film's sense of movement a great deal, filled some of the gaps, added depth, and assisted an uninitiated viewer's appreciation of the themes,personalities and relationships. At least it would have given some more human voice to a very human story.

In summary, I felt it was not a bad film - that it came close to being very good. But it's flawed, and again in a way that so many Australian cinema releases are.
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relentlessly downbeat drama
Buddy-514 May 2008
In the autobiographical coming-of-age tale "Romulus, My Father," Eric Bana, of "Munich" fame, plays an impoverished German émigré struggling to raise his son, Raymond (Kodi Smit-McPhee), in rural 1960's Australia. The major obstacle to the family's stability and happiness is his wife, Christina (Franka Potente), who flagrantly violates her wedding vows by shamelessly shacking up with other men. Despite her highly unconventional behavior, Romulus refuses to grant her a divorce, masochistically torturing himself in the vain hope that she will one day return to him. It is, unfortunately, the good-hearted and good-natured Raimond who must bear witness to all this marital turmoil - and it is his memoir that serves as the basis for the movie (Raimond Gaita would later grow up to be an author).

Even though I admire "Romulus, My Father" for what it is trying to do, I can't honestly say I enjoyed it, for while the film has some fine performances and serious intentions going for it, these simply aren't enough to counteract the dour storyline and funereal pacing, which leave the audience as despairing and depressed as the people on screen. A serious slice-of-life drama is one thing, but this unremittingly downbeat wallow in adultery, insanity and multiple suicides (let alone attempted suicides) is something else again.
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Alienation within the rural alien nation of Australian immigrants.
RJBurke194210 February 2010
This is a depressing story; and yet, it is not. It's simply life in rural Victoria, Australia, in the 1960s, within an immigrant family trying to survive, emotionally and financially, in difficult times. So, it's a well-known type of story: with precursors like The Grapes of Wrath (1940), We of the Never Never (1982), and right up to Angela's Ashes (1999).

The differences here are two fold: first, the story is told largely through the eyes of a pre-teen boy, Raimond Gaita (Kodi Smit-McPhee); and thematically, it reverses the stereotypical idea of the wayward husband who can't stop chasing women – instead, we have a wife who can't seem to settle down with one man.

As viewer, we enter the story with Romulus (Eric Bana) alone on his farm with his son, Raimond. Soon, we learn that Christina (Franka Portente) is now living with Mitru (Russel Dyksra), brother to Hora (Martin Csokas) who is a good friend of Romulus. Hora stays with Romulus, helping out on the farm for a while. One day, Christina returns and pleads to have Mitru join her. Romulus, surprisingly, agrees; but he's obviously not happy. Shortly, the emotional strain is too much however: Mitru returns to Melbourne, and soon Christina moves back to have his child, Susan (Eve Parker). Raimond joins his mother to help her out, leaving Romulus alone at the farm (with occasional help from Hora). All the while, Christine's unbalanced psychology leads to bouts of depression, sexual adventures and suicide attempts, all of which Raimond witnesses. From there, the story reaches its inevitable denouement.

As a fictional story, it would be a hard sell to any producer. Based upon a true memoir, however, it's simply astounding to me that a husband could love so deeply that he was willing to share his wife with another man. As Romulus, Eric Bana is astoundingly good; his non-verbal acting is just amazing. Young Kodi Smit-McPhee is a great new talent: being on camera most of the time is difficult even for adults, so his performance is even more of a revelation. Franka Portente, whom I'd first seen in Run, Lola, Run (1998), acts the alienated wife to perfection, I think. And the supporting cast is well up to scratch.

Overall, this is a mature production from first-time director, Richard Roxburgh, and rates as one of the better films from Australia for many a year. The script rings true, although a bit sparse at times; I think some voice over from Raimond would have been useful to help viewers stay with the narrative. The music is distinctive, but not particularly memorable; it is effective, however. The Australian landscape is stunningly and lovingly photographed. The period setting is exquisitely detailed, right down to the tinned baked beans and spaghetti for tea – one of my own unpleasant memories from my teen years in Sydney at that time.

And, as a piece of immigrant Australian history, it helped to flesh out, for me, the troubles of those New Australians, in those difficult times. It was an insight that appealed and appalled – and one that I'm glad I've now seen. I hope all film aficionados take the time to see it. Highly recommended.
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Excellent Movie Painful to Watch
maitai3262 July 2008
Without going into the plot- most other posts cover it here, I wanted to share my thoughts on this movie as well. It is a sad but very insightful view into a child's experiences as he watches his parents relationship develop into something so depressing and unhopeful. Despite that, I still loved this story because of the performances by the actors. This memoir reminds me of another memoir turned movie "This Boy's Life." The story is depressing the whole way through, but because of the actors/actresses, it becomes more realistic and gives you a reason to care what happens to these people.

Also, i forget the name of the person responsible for the cinematography on this movie, but it is outstanding! I wanted to keep each frame and each shot as a photograph and frame it on my wall, it is that good. The colors and the whole look of the picture, just takes you back to that particular time and place. It gives the sad movie a sense of peace and comfort where you would least expect to find it. I looked it up on IMDb, and seems like he also did the cinematography for Little Women, another movie with an excellent look/feel. Sometimes I would buy a movie to keep just for that reason - its like keeping a photograph book that takes you somewhere else every time.

This is a very touching movie - It'll have you thinking about it long after the movie is over. And to learn that it was a true story and what has become of that child in the story, gives you assurance that it does have a good ending after all.

Its missing 2 star from perfection because as much as I liked this movie, i don't know how many times i could watch it - even though i plan on buying this movie.
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Do yourself a favor and see the movie of your life!!!
Alexander_Amur5 January 2011
This is one of these movies that only come once in a great great while and leave your soul with the burden of a lifetime experience. It will charge you up and it will brake you to pieces...No words to describe... Can't find a way to define...Why so strongly do we want to live when the meaning of life is so overpoweringly indefinite, vague, woolly, unclear, unspecific and unfixed!?... BECAUSE IT'S OVERPOWERING!!!

I beg you please, do yourself the favor of seeing this Leviathanic Achievement in the Art of Cinematography!!! Your heart will melt completely when at the end the film reveals you that this is the biographical memoir of the philosopher and writer Raimond Gaita! Please, believe me now, when I say that I am completely overwhelmed by the emotions the movie left me with and this is the reason to be writing this review/message. I am an independent individual not involved with or paid by any movie production or company related to the the film .

Thank you
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A rather side story
mmunier3 February 2010
I should not really have come here to talk about it, as I did not give it my full attention which very unlike me. I don't agree with J Cocteau that movie have to get rid of big budget etc. to be art, but who am I beside being entitled to my opinion! Art it is and Romulus My Father strives in this achievement. Why I did not give it my whole attention, I don't know exactly. Was it Eric Bana background in Aussie TV, was it "another Australian movie? No because I actually taped it and was looking forward to see it. Was it the slow pace of the start, perhaps. I think really I was not in the right mood for it and agree that is a difficult story almost joyless. I was surprised to see no comment incorporating some comparison with "Last Ride" (Hugo Weaving)even though I founds some comments from authors who had enter comment under both films. I saw "Last Ride" at the cinema and Romulus... at home but on a fairly large screen. I will have another go at it... perhaps with some fine wine to get the journey smoother!
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Slightly off target, but heartbreakingly beautiful
bootlebarth29 November 2008
The American dominated 'Rotten Tomatoes' website gives the bore and gore abomination of 'Wolf Creek' the thumbs up but doesn't like 'Romulus, my father'. Raimond Gaita's personal story is extraordinary. His broadcast reading of his book is moving, as is this film. If you see this on DVD, don't miss the interview with Gaita on the extras disc.

For people who still possess hearts and emotions, 'Romulus, my father' is unmissable. Gaita, the author, is no exhibitionist. The film takes liberties with his hastily written memoir, but most of the essentials are preserved.

The child acting is outstanding. The direction is unobtrusive. The transition from young son of battling Australian immigrants to professor of philosophy is mentioned only in the closing titles. If American critics and audiences turn away from this, but award Oscars to turkeys like 'American Beauty' and 'As Good as it Gets', there's not much hope for humanity.

If you like car chases, explosions, tough guy grimaces and special effects, stay away. If you still have human feelings and haven't been brainwashed by what passes for popular culture, take a deep breath and witness this exceptional film.
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"A man's work is his dignity"
collins0920 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"Romulus, my father" is not the history of a problematic family but it could be considered as a documentary of how difficult was the fight against the depression, and the consequent effects, in a period without cures. A little family of immigrants has to clear big hurdles in order to guarantee the right education for their young son. But it does not exist a right education and, probably, it does not exist a right love. We are always alone in front of big obstacles. The slow narration well represents the darkness lived by the characters. Only in the end there is a new light for new dreams: after years of cupidity, after weepings and crisis, after funerals and weddings, father and son can hope again, still together.
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