Movie Review: Father and Son

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
Father and Son by the Russian director Alexander Sokorov is a film that will be selected by gay film festivals whether or not the director feels it should be pigeon holed as a film with a gay theme. The film concerns an intimate father/son relationship. They share a rooftop apartment and because of their close confines and interpersonal world, the two men act like brothers and sometimes seem like lovers. The characters are known only as father and son in the film. The father played by Andrey Schetinin, is a retired soldier and the son played by Aleksey Neymyshev is a cadet in a military school. In one scene the father and son lie naked in their bed, consoling each other, photographed by Alexander Burov.

Why would Sokorov believe that such a seemingly homoerotic scene is only a European notion. When the film debuted at the Cannes film festival last spring, Sokorov lashed out and claimed that ‘European society has reached a blind alley’, inferring that homoerotic readings of the were short sighted. At the 2004 Frameline Gay and Lesbian film festival in San Francisco the film was praised for its intimate male bonding and physicality. Are close parent and child relationships seen differently in Europe than Russia? Is is possible to have a close physical and intimate relationship between adult father and son where emotional or physical incest never comes into question. Is this just a father and son physically sparring, comforting each other about their dead wife, and mother. If the intentions of these scenes aren't sufficiently clear, we know that is the son that remarks "A father's love crucifies," and a loyal son accepts crucifixion. The son even has dreams of killing his father. Meanwhile the young cadet's girlfriend is jealous of his father. The father is sure that his chances for employment are better in another city and maybe he could find a new wife but knows that only he can sooth and comfort his son.

Certainly the film touches on the issues surrounding same sex relationships that often involve father son nurturing -- or lack of it. Perhaps the blind alley lies with Sokorov’s understanding of male bonding. Father and Son despite the director’s concern is an impassioned piece that treats the subject of male intimacy.

Sokorov has also done a portrait called Mother and Son and plans to do a film called Two Brothers and a Sister. He is concerned that parental child bonds remain as natural and close as possible.

For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan, Stockholm Sweden.
More Information:
Father and Son
Russia - 2003