ROMULUS MY FATHER: DVD
Young Raimond Gaita (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is the son of Romanian migrant, Romulus (Eric Bana) and his German wife, Christina (Franka Potente), living in rural 50s Victoria. They are poor; life is complicated and painful as his mother is often absent and neglectful, but his father does everything he can to provide a loving, moral and stable environment. Even when his mother's affair with a friend of his father's Mitru (Russell Dykstra) results in a baby, Romulus does the honourable thing. Mitru's brother Hora (Marton Csokas) is also solidly supportive, especially after Christina's suicide and Romulus' breakdown. When Romulus returns from hospital, he gets another chance to help and see his son grow up.
Review by Louise Keller:
'Things change, but our life is what our thoughts make it,' Eric Bana's Romulus tells his 10 year old son Rai. Such is the philosophy of Romulus, My Father, a pensive tale of hardship, based on Raimond Gaiter's memoirs from his childhood. Beautifully shot in rural Victoria by cinematographer Geoffrey Simpson and sensitively directed by actor turned director Richard Roxburgh, Nick Drake's script is economical in its telling of a critical chapter in Rai's life, as a young immigrant child from a broken family, whose emotional and physical survival is at its lowest ebb.
Bana pares his performance to minimalist proportions as he portrays a loving father and hard-working family man who shoulders his responsibilities seriously. Leisurely told, the story is peppered with heartbreaking elements as Rai (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is confronted by situations and things no child should have to endure. Smit-McPhee has great presence in his first leading role, as the young boy who grapples not only with the complex task of fitting in as a newcomer, but having to assume adult responsibilities. Rai accepts the occasional presence of his beloved Mutti (Franka Potente) and delights in the brightness and laughter she brings on her visits. But the pendulum of brightness also swings darkly. He tells his father the family should live together all the time, but the reality of Christina's other man Mitru (Russell Dykstra) becomes all too obvious. Both Romulus and Mitru love Christina unconditionally, but life that includes two men, one woman, a child and a baby is not a winning combination. Marton Csokas is likeable as Hora, the family friend who is also part of the family.
There's a sense of isolation and loneliness as we watch Rai strum the springs under the bed, throw a stick into the misty landscape or look at the stars from the rooftop. His education is harsh as he learns ugly truths, but it is his relationship with his father that is the emotional pivot. Beautifully capturing life on the land, the film is involving and moving, although the constancy of the hardships pounds us into a rather somber mood. It's a splendid debut for Roxburgh and a haunting and inspiring tale of survival.
There's an audio commentary on the DVD by Richard Roxburgh, Popcorn Taxi Q & A session, Roxburgh's video diary of production, an interview with author Raimond Gaita, panel session at the Sydney Writer's Festival with Roxburgh, producers Robert Connelly and John Maynard, author Raimond Gaita, screenwriter Nick Drake and stars Eric Bana and Marton Csokas.
Published November 8, 2007
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ROMULUS MY FATHER: DVD (MA)
CAST: Eric Bana, Franka Potente, Marton Csokas, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jacek Koman, Russell Dykstra, Veronica Sywak,
PRODUCER: Robert Connolly, John Maynard
DIRECTOR: Richard Roxburgh
SCRIPT: Nick Drake (Raimond Gaita memoir)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Geoffrey Simpson
EDITOR: Suresh Ayyar
MUSIC: Basil Hogios
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Robert Cousins
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy/Footprint
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 31, 2007
SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by Richard Roxburgh, Popcorn Taxi Q & A with Richard Roxburgh, Robert Connolly, and cinematographer Geoffrey Simpson, Video diary of production, interview with author Raimond Gaita, Panel session at Sydney Writers' Festival, trailer
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
DVD RELEASE: November 7, 2007