The lifetime of late Colombian physician, professor and human rights defender Héctor Abad Gómez was definitely singular sufficient to be recollected in print and, to wit, “Oblivion. A Memoir,” by Gómez’s son, Héctor Abad Faciolince, grew to become a prize-winning bestseller.
However making a movie based mostly on stated guide is one other matter and the outcome, “Memories of My Father,” might have benefited from a much more telescoped, narratively partaking strategy than was taken by screenwriter David Trueba and his brother, director Fernando Trueba (Oscar-winning “Belle Époque,” “Calle 54”).
As well as, telling Gomez’s story largely by way of the adoring eyes of 12-year-old Hector Jr., nicknamed “Quiquin” (Nicolás Reyes Cano), lends an excessive amount of of the film a form of one-note high quality, extra hagiography than objectively dimensional character research.
True, Gómez (Javier Cámara) seemed to be an amazingly affectionate, embracing and devoted household man, the form of dad — and partner — everybody hopes for. And, as somebody who clearly felt and believed in issues on a profoundly deep stage, there’s no dearth of emotional resonance to his character right here.
However an excessive amount of of the movie (an official choice at 2020’s Cannes Movie Competition and Colombia’s entry within the 2021 Oscar race) lacks enough battle and an natural sense of storytelling. Flashing again from 1983 Italy, the place 24-year-old Hector Jr. (Juan Pablo Urrego) is learning literature, to his comparatively idyllic childhood in Medellín, Colombia, circa 1971, the movie performs like a sequence of snapshots; “memories” that fill a canvas — and the movie’s inflated working time — however don’t essentially add as much as a propulsive, distinctive or absorbing sufficient story.
These rearview-mirror episodes characteristic such bits as Hector Sr. taking his younger son to a “serious” film that bores the child into slumber, Hector Jr. breaking a Jewish neighbor’s window out of knee-jerk antisemitism, and the boy’s need to see a corpse in his dad’s analysis lab (and a subsequent nightmare about it). Even when there are the briefest payoffs to a few of these and different disconnected scenes, they play like little greater than filler.
A Eighties sequence wherein the grownup Hector Jr. near-fatally runs over a pedestrian proves startlingly inconsequential — and a tad ambiguous.
Extra compelling are the nice and cozy and energetic group portrayals of Hector Jr.’s tight-knit household, which incorporates his luminous mom, Cecilia (Patricia Tamayo), and 4 sisters (three older and one youthful). A bossy nun, a loyal housekeeper and Quiquin’s ailing grandma are family fixtures as effectively.
Nonetheless, these characters are inclined to fall into the final swirl as a substitute of creating totally particular person, natural impressions. The exception is Hector Jr.’s musical, if ill-fated sister, Marta (Kami Zea), whose soulful renditions of the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” present a number of evocative moments.
The heft of the story (and what made Hector Sr. such a notable, memoir-worthy persona) includes the physician’s unflagging and fairly public dedication to progressiveness — medical, social and political — which branded him as a “Communist” and “Marxist” in a rustic more and more stricken by drug-related and paramilitary violence. However even the uninitiated will possible guess Hector Sr.’s destiny — he’s portrayed as too saintly a person to flee earthly retribution — if not the overly melodramatic method the movie performs out.
Along with a splendidly vivid flip by Cámara (a veteran of such Pedro Almodóvar movies as “Talk to Her” and “Bad Education”), the cinematography by Sergio Iván Castaño can also be a plus. Stark black-and-white imagery is employed for the Eighties sequences and heat shade for the Nineteen Seventies scenes, a provocative twist on the standard use of black and white for flashbacks.
If solely the remainder of this well-intended, if overly sentimental journey was as intriguing.
‘Memories of My Father’
In Spanish, Italian and English with English subtitles.
Working time: 2 hours, 16 minutes
Taking part in: Begins Nov. 25 Laemmle Royal Theatre, West Los Angeles; Laemmle City Heart 5, Encino