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In My Father's Den Reviews

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familiar s

Super Reviewer

February 9, 2010
Could have been better. A brisker pace & a well thought/executed ending would have been of great help.
August 15, 2013
Beautiful Love child of two genres - Drama and Thriller...
March 17, 2013
The dialogue is frequently melodramatic that it becomes difficult to forget that you are watching a film. Apart from that, the film cannot be faulted technically however it lacks any distinctive characteristic required to make it great.
October 24, 2012
Really want to see this movie!
December 2, 2007
This is perhaps my all-time favourite film. Paul, a war photographer, returns home for the first time in 17 years. In the beginning, the audience sees him as an arrogant man, too busy for his family. What begins to unfold is a masterpiece about the complexities of human beings. You see that Paul, and all the other characters, have considerable baggage from their past. You especially see that Paul's past, both personal and professional, have molded him into the person he is now: an emotionally detached, damaged individual. He meets Celia, a 17 year-old who is hoping to leave New Zealand and make something of herself. Their friendship changes both of their lives in ways they never could have foreseen. This film looks at issues, such as how our experiences shape us as people. Also, the impact a family has on an individual's development. There are also themes of isolation in the modern world, intergenerational friendships, small towns, and (I'd argue) post traumatic stress disorder. The acting is superb, and the cinematography is great. The pace is a bit slow, but I would argue that it needs to be in order to reflect small town life in a genuine way. The characters are complex, never allowing you to feel that they are either good or bad. This is perhaps one of the most emotional and thought-provoking films I've seen to date.

I come from a small town, and I left at 17. I've barely been home in the past 9 years (barely even returned to the country), although it's not due to family issues. I've worked in highly emotionally stressful lines of work, such as human trafficking prevention and adoption. I've seen babies locked in rooms, left to die... small girls who were forced into prostitution... When I saw this film, I had to admire Matthew MacFadyen's portrayal. Most people in these professions end up becoming overly extroverted to compensate, or completely closed-off. Even more, the script is amazing in that his brother does not even recognize him at first. My family has often remarked on how it's changed me to be too closed off and reckless. Perhaps on of the most heartfelt, genuine, and accurate portrayals. Watching this movie, I was drawn in to completely believing that MacFadyen really is a war photographer... the acting was beyond superb. Bravo!
November 13, 2011
Uma história envolvente com desfecho inesperado, mixagem perfeita de drama e suspense!
August 30, 2011
Do you remember when Spooks first aired on BBC1 some ten years ago? I do. I enjoyed watching Matthew Macfadyen's character Tom Quinn's life slowly disintegrate; the scenes with the laptop and his girlfriend are still some the best TV ever. Well this film stars Matthew Macfadyen and his character Paul Prior has a lot of Tom Quinn in him.

I really, really liked this thriller. It's more dysfunctional family stuff, this time in New Zealand. The scenery looks beautiful, I cared what happened to the characters (even though most were kind of screwed up) and the whole feel of the film works. The small-town, rural New Zealand vibe feels authentic and the assumptions people make about others' behaviours and actions makes it well worthy of an extended discussion down the pub afterwards.

It's a slow film which can be a bit confusing at times as it jumps about using flashbacks, but it's an otherwise brilliant movie. It's even got a proper start and end too, which isn't always the case for character-based dramas. Oh by the way, if you want the missing two minute, dodgy sex scene you'll have to avoid the UK release. On balance I'm glad it's not there, as I think it would have introduced a character flaw that's better off excluded.

Recommended for people that like to watch awesome, thought provoking films, even ones with no aliens or explosions in them. Basically this is a must see film.

1 cat and no decapitations. It's only a cat walk-on part though; (well it's strictly a carry on part really).

Top badass moment? Not sure really. I guess I'll go for Paul Prior telling a few home truths about Celia's brother, only to be beaten up and thrown out of the house by him. Standing up to bullies even thought it means you're probably going to get the crap kicked out of you is badass, stupid yes, but badass.
July 8, 2011
Este filme tem críticas excelentes mas sinceramente achei um pouco lento... mas a história até é interessante
May 29, 2011
Though "In My Father's Den" is not easy to handle, it is worth seeing, thanks to the complex characters and the enigmatic storyline.
Louise B.
June 13, 2010
Such a beautiful film, but don't watch it unless you want to be taken on an emotional ride. It's heavy. But to me, that's definitely not a downside. This film is flawless, and my ultimate favourite film to date.
January 2, 2010
Mathew MacFadyen plays a war zone photographer returning to his former his home town to attend his fathers funeral. Set in a small township in a remote area of the South Island of New Zealand. The film beautifully dramatizes the world weary Prior against the next generation who look to leave the town and experience the world for themselves. Paul's very presence creates a ripple effect across the close knit community. Some positive, some negative. Old family wounds are opened, youthful loves remembered, new relationships are forged and dark truths revealed.

The storytelling is sophisticated, delicate and richly layered in such a way, that it easily deserves a second viewing. The performances from the entire cast are compelling, but none so as extraordinary as the lead performances by newcomer Emily Barclay (as Celia) and Mathew MacFadyen (as Paul Prior). The scenes between these two are simply mesmerizing. A pure joy to watch. This film achieves what few films can claim to, and that is, to create characters, which you totally believe are living flesh and blood.

The film plays it's cards slowly and steadily at first, gradually drawing you deeper into it's web. Before long you are captivated and unable to prevent yourself from becoming emotionally involved. Works great both as a rich drama and thriller.

Three and a half stars, out of four.
Iryna K.
December 15, 2009
Well, this movie made me register at RT... I just... I'm not good at writing reviews and English is not my native...

I can't say it was that moving - I don't know even a half a dozen movies that I'd consider moving. I'm not sure it's powerful - I mean it's not a WWII movie or anything. Just one family - and not an epic like, say, Legends of the Fall. It's an intimate motion picture but it gives you the full set of emotions - and, at the same time, it's so subtle. With no spoilers and no plot retelling (again!), I just want to say that George Carlin's "The planet is fine. The people are fucked" is so right and to the point.

This movie just makes you feel.

Oh, and... If you feel something about someone or want to say something to someone - do say it, right away. Life is awfully short.

I do recommend this film.
June 19, 2005
There aren't very many movies that would fit comfortably into two genres, particularly when those genres are family drama and thriller. But [b]In My Father's Den[/b] does so with admirable skill, as it studies the lives and past of the Prior family. Apparent prodigal son Paul (Matthew MacFadyen) returns to his native New Zealand for the funeral of his father. There he meets the brother he left behind so many years ago, Andrew (Colin Moy) and his shrinking violet, red-headed sister-in-law Penny (Miranda Otto), who reminds him so much of their mother. But it's no simple repentance story being told here: complications arise and secrets are revealed when Paul's past returns to haunt him in the form of his childhood sweetheart Jax (Jodie Rimmer) and her precocious teenage daughter Celia (Emily Barclay), who was born a very convenient eight months after Paul left town. Paul and Celia quickly form a bond, as he encourages her to pursue her dreams and her writing... but this makes him the main suspect when Celia mysteriously disappears one day.

Director/writer Brad McGann displays excellent control of his material here, interspersing flashback sequences with present-day events, to tell the story of a family not even realising how much it's been torn apart by the lies and secrets saved up from almost two decades ago. First of all, McGann's movie is quite, quite beautiful: while he isn't very subtle, to say the least, he does fill the screen with lovingly-lit shots, like Paul's moody, blues-drenched soak in a tub. He also trains his camera on the New Zealand landscape, which shot to fame in the [i]Lord of the Rings [/i]trilogy's lush, rolling green hills. But here, McGann gives us the entirely real grasslands, orchards and rain-slick rivers that form a dizzyingly beautiful backdrop for the characters to uncover ever more hidden truths, and ever darker lies about their pasts. McGann juxtaposes scenes of a young Paul and Jax running down the flower-strewn path of an orchard in springtime, shouting and happy and in love, with moments of stark, bitter darkness--shots of policemen in the grey of evening, hunting the cold, muddy riverbed for Celia's body. Moments of surprisingly simple beauty are also scattered through the film: take Celia's move to celebrate Paul's birthday for him. She strings glasses filled with candles on the trees in a clearing, for a flame-lit picnic that's as sweetly familial and almost romantic a setting as any estranged father and daughter embarking on a journey of discovery could hope for.

But prettiness does not a movie make: yes,the look is certainly lovely, but what really helps is McGann's firm control of the feel of the entire enterprise. His sparse, clever use of music is a good example of this: unlike less confident directors who pile on the music and noise, using sound effects to shove the audience towards one interpretation or other, McGann fills much of his movie with an eloquent silence that is at once peaceful and yet smacks of despair. It's a silence noted by the characters too, with battle-weary war photographer/journalist Paul commenting, early on in the film, that he'd forgotten just how quiet his old town was. When McGann does employ music, he artfully uses Patti Smith's melancholic rock stompers to hint at the current of pain that underlies Paul and Jax's apparently magical youthful dalliance. Mercifully, McGann's way with a soundtrack translates well to the rest of the film: [b]IMFD[/b] is a slow-burner, certainly, but intended to be so, and is never less than interesting as it flows languidly from scene to scene. McGann's presentation of the flashback sequences is very effective too: often, the flashbacks are cut short, stopping shy of revealing a startling truth or another twisted lie, but this editing often helps rather than hinders, as it suggests not so much a director's wilful manipulation of the audience, but rather a memory truncated because it was too painful to recall, too raw to bring completely to the surface.

Complaints? Not many, to be honest. It's probably safe to say that if you're the type who feels deceived when movie-makers slip you tantalising bits of story when it suits them best, you're not going to like this movie (or any in M Night Shyamalan's oeuvre, for that matter). The editing [i]does[/i] border on the manipulative, trying to stay at least half a step before the audience through most of the movie. Meanwhile, performances are solid, including MacFadyen's competent anchoring of the movie and cast, and Barclay's spirited rendering of the dreamy, wilful Celia. Unfortunately, none of them is inspiring enough to have grabbed me by the heart, which is a shame--every character is just that little bit too distant to be truly engaging.

But these are just small quibbles against what is a genuinely enjoyable family drama slash thriller--you don't get very many of those these days, so perhaps it's best to enjoy this one while you can.

[size=1][Blasted RT ate my first attempt at a review and crashed the computer. Don't mind me if I'm even less coherent than usual in this one. Sigh.][/size]
November 13, 2004
In My Father's Den is apparently loosely based upon the Maurice Gee novel of the same name. Having never read the book, and not being much of a Gee fan in any event, I'm not going to comment on any similarities - or lack of similarities - between the two.

Matthew MacFadyen leads the movie as Paul Prior, a lonely war photographer returning home to southern New Zealand for his father's funeral. Having been gone for 17 years Paul finds much that has changed in his hometown and discovers the consequences of actions taken by him, and his family, linger still. When Paul visits his father's house, and returns to the secret den that his father built, filled with books and music, he discovers Celia (Emily Barclay), a young woman with a yearning for something deeper than the small town life. At first he demands she leave, but Celia returns later under the fabricated excuse of a school assignment to learn more about this man who has caused ripples to spread like tidal waves amongst her town.

Paul is shown as a deeply troubled young man. His vices stretch from alcohol to fetish sex to drug taking. Yet he is the closest thing in this movie to someone who can be considered even remotely to be a hero. His brother Andrew (Colin Moy) owns a declining ostrich farm that he runs with his wife Penny (Miranda Otto) and son Jonathan (Jimmy Keen). A repressed and clearly bitter young man, Andrew has married a woman the spitting image of the boys' dead mother.

In My Father's Den runs a twisted, web like connection between its characters. Celia is early shown as the daughter of Paul's ex-girlfriend, born soon after he ran from home to explore the world. The web gets deeper, much deeper, and stickier as the movie goes on. Paul takes a teaching position for some few weeks in town as the final arrangements for his father's property are made. As time passes Paul builds a friendship with Celia - now one of his students - through meetings and long discussions held in the secret den that they share.

When Celia disappears the rumour-mill starts working overtime and Paul finds the town's suspicion and hatred turned on him - once his home, the town now sees him as the worst kind of outsider. Villified, and abused by those who distrust him, or are simply jealous of him, Paul travels a bleak and lonely road.

The movie keeps that bleakness throughout. From the opening shots of Paul on the train and the town under the shadow of the mountains, through to the end, In My Father's Den never relents. It is a dark movie, with Paul's drug taking, and the sexual moments of adolescents depicted sharply and without forgiveness. Paul's emotional journey is stark, and the claws of small-town life feel true as they are sunk into his back. In My Father's Den offers a deep and thoughtful look into a world of darkness and bitterness, in a way that will undoubtedly move you.

But it's far from perfect. MacFadyen does well enough with Paul and the building of the relationship with Celia is convincing and emotionally satisfying. Barclay's turn as Celia shows moments of strength but is often let down by a stilted and wooden reactions. Given the nature of his role Keen does remarkably well as Jonathan, but the rest supporting cast acting varies from the mediocre to the absolutely dire.

Some of the performance failures can be overlooked, some can't. The problems really begin to surface, however, in the final act which sometimes feels like an unrelated whodunnit. The end is not a resolution, but is simply an end, though in that sense it is perhaps far more realistic than perhaps it otherwise could have been.

Overall, however, In My Father's Den is deep, thoughtful and moving, albeit flawed, and should be seen by anyone not put off by the slightly perverse matters it discusses. From teen sex, to auto-asphyxiation, to drug taking, to what some would consider paedophilia, In My Father's Den is not a movie that takes things lightly, but it is a movie that takes firm control of them.

7.5 / 10
November 11, 2004
Dark and complex. Nice plot with subtle twists through to the end.
November 9, 2004
For a while i thought id try to seem intelligent by using my friends review of this, (which she wrote in 5 seconds, explinaing why it wasnt as good as all her other reviews, but still, how is it she can write so much in 5 seconds and make i seem like she actually thought again it a bit?) but then i thought, i like my random babble much better! So i will just say, i like In My Fathers Den. It was all kool and twisty and turny and stuff and i really didnt expect what happened to be what happened! I like the whole flashback thing too! That was kool! Emily Barclay should be nominated for Best Actress, so then there will be more nz'ers at the oscars!!
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