Film Review: The Father

Writer-directors Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov’s The Father is a candid comedy drama which weaves farce with a poignant tale.

After the funeral of his wife, Vasil believes his wife is trying to send him a message from beyond the grave. Vasil attempts to locate his late wife’s aura, accompanied by his skeptical son…

The Father opens on a serious scene, with the sombreness of a funeral being interrupted by an absurd request. This sets the tone for what is to follow. Directed and written by Grozvena and Valchanov (with co-writer Decho Taralezhkov), the film combines often dark humour with more serious themes.

The narrative follows Vasil and his adult son Pavel in the days after his wife’s funeral. Grozvena and Valchanov are careful not to give too much away to begin with, holding back key details until later in the film. The Father offers a portrait of a grieving husband, and a son attempting to help an ageing father whilst dealing with his own issues.

Humour in the film comes mostly through dialogue, although physical comedy is present. Grozvena and Valchanov opt for dark comedy, which sometimes verges on the absurd, There is a farcical nature to some of the incident; with Pavel’s explanation of the delays to his wife becoming more ridiculous the longer he is away. There is an amusing use of a jump cut after the police station sequence.

The Father walks a tightrope between tragic and comic throughout its duration. This is a story about grief, belief, and denial. At its heart, the film unveils a complicated father-son relationship. Although amusing at times, the film is sincere in its depiction of these themes. Ivan Savov and Ivan Barnev deliver very convincing performances as father and son.

The emotional ending answers questions for both the protagonists and viewers. The Father is a touching story.

The Father is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2019.