Franka Potente and Kodi Smit-McPhee are mother and son in "Romulus, My Father."
‘Romulus’ film captures plight of immigrants
If you want to make a quality film, sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands.
Such was the case with actors Richard Roxburgh and Eric Bana who, as associate producers of the Australian-made "Romulus, My Father," helped bring their adaptation of philosopher Raimond Gaita's critically acclaimed 1998 memoir to the screen.
"Romulus, My Father"|
Screens 6:15 p.m. tomorrow and 3 p.m. Thursday
The film was a big winner at last year's Australian Film Institute awards ceremony, receiving accolades for best film, best lead actor (Bana), best supporting actor (Martin Csokas) and young actor (Kodi Smit-McPhee).
Keep your eyes out in the future for Smit-McPhee. Although he was surrounded by other fine and "grown-up" performances by Franka Potente and Jacek Koman, it's the young man's heartfelt performance that is the core of this story about the struggles of an Eastern European immigrant family in the early 1960s. He's that good, and the camera loves his unique, nearly androgynous face.
Smit-McPhee plays the young Raimond, and the audience literally sees the character grow up throughout the film, from a boy shuttled between his craftsman father, Romulus (Bana), and beautiful and tragically free-spirited mother, Christina (Potente), to a boarding school student who tries to keep the family drama at arm's length while strengthening his bond with his "Poppy." That's because Christina has run off to live with Mitru (Russell Dykstra), the brother of Romulus' best friend, Hora (Csokas). But Romulus refuses to divorce her because, as he tells her early on, "you need me."
That proves to be an understatement, as suicide and mental illness eventually tear up the complicated relationships between Raimond's parents and the brothers. But despite all the tragedy, it's Raimond's maturing resolve to make the best of things that keeps the film from collapsing into an emotionally draining melodrama.
Roxburgh does a solid job directing the ensemble cast, and Geoffrey Simpson's cinematography captures the contrasts of the desolate landscape of the immigrant homestead and the tightly packed atmosphere of the nearby town.
And for those of us who only know Bana as the first Incredible Hulk, his portrayal of the stoic yet loving father here is a near revelation and shows why the man remains a star in his native Australia.
Hawaii International Film Festival 11th Annual Spring Showcase
» Continues through Thursday at Dole Cannery multiplex
» Tickets: $10; $9 military, students and seniors
» Call 550-8457 or visit hiff.org