Sunday, 8 July 2007

Richard Roxburgh's Romulus, My Father, based on the eponymous book by Raimond Gaita, gave me many moments of pleasure when I saw it today. It's the story of migrants.

It's also set in the Victorian countryside. Many of the aesthetic choices Roxburgh makes are familiar to me. This feeling of accommodation allowed me to empathise with the characters intimately. I felt as though I was guiding the lens, sometimes.

There is minimal dialogue. The film is very sensual, very 'visual' (if you like), and so when a character does put together more than three words at the same time, the impact is sensible.

I would recommend this film to all, especially to those, like me, who understand the migrant experience because either we, or our parents, experienced it.

Christina (pictured) is Romulus' wife but their marriage is complex because she often does not live with father and son, preferring Melbourne to the countryside. Raimond's father sends him to an exclusive private school, and when Christina's second husband dies, she approaches him. But he doesn't want it. There's a great little scene when Raimond happens to pass by a teacher (headmaster?) in the grounds, and says to him that "if my mother calls, please can you tell her that I don't want to see her right now".

Just like that. The choices a young child is forced to make when confronted by the complexities of adult life, have never been so succinctly portrayed.

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