ROMULUS, MY FATHER
|A young boy deals with a compulsive mother, an obsessive father and mental disease in rural Australia. Based on the personal memoirs of Raymond Gaita.||score
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Eric Bana, Franka Potente, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Marton Csokas, Russell Dykstra
Rating / Running Time
M / 100 minutes
(c) moviereview 2006-2007
ABN 72 775 390 361
|Romulus, My Father is a touching account of
growing up in 1960s rural Australia. The son of a Romanian immigrant,
Raimond Gaita (a candescent James Smit-McPhee) is forced to confront obsessive love and mental
instability from an early age. Periodic visits from his part-time and
somewhat flighty mother (Famke Jamsonn) are cause for both celebration and irritation:
Romulus (Eric Bana) is utterly devoted to his wife despite an ongoing affair with
his best-friend's brother. As smouldering passion leads to tragedy, Rai
becomes a surrogate wife, husband, father and friend beyond his years.
Director Richard Roxburgh has a near-perfect sense of time and place. He evokes backwater Australia with the rhythms of years passed, effortlessly creating an era that concentrates the story's complicated concerns. Critical is the relationship between Rai and his father. Romulus is played with a smouldering intensity by Bana but all eyes are on Smit-McPhee, whose natural, unassuming portrayal of the young boy is the film's cornerstone.
Romulus, My Father tackles a subject rarely told in Australian cinema: the distressing affect of mental illness on young families. That Roxburgh should choose such difficult material for his debut, handle it with such confidence and deliver it with such emotion is what makes this one of the most satisfying films of the year.
// COLIN FRASER