Fathers in film and TV: Kang-ho Song in Parasite, Adam Driver in Marriage Story, Sendhil Ramamurthy in Never Have I Ever, and more
Happy Father's Day
Before fathers, there were boys, lovesick teens, needy husbands, men who feared roaches — the list goes on. As much as we like to displace that possibility, they can still be those people. As we careen into a weekend of celebrating the (first) man in our lives, I thought hard about the strange pedestal that we put our Dads on. Of course, it varies for everyone. But it's a complex bundle of traits: part stoic, part intimidating, part awkward, and sometimes uncomfortable to be around. Yet the same time, they have the ability to make your heart break instantly. Just by a small tender gesture or a glimpse of their torn and tattered trainers.
The thing is, fathers shouldn't have to be invincible and they certainly aren't perfect. Thanks to a few impressionably flawed Dads played out in film and television, here are the important lessons I've learnt about fatherhood and life.
Kim Ki-taek (Kang-ho Song) in Parasite
The visionary of Boon Joon-Ho and the gripping reality of capitalism couldn't have been complete without Ki-taek, the emblem of poverty. On the surface, he's lazy, unmotivated, and has seemingly resigned to his situation in the ditches. But even with that absence of provision for his family, we see heartbreaking moments of Ki-taek's pain throughout the course of the show. His despair as he watches his family stay afloat when their basement house took in a flood, his flicker of anger when he realises he carries a stench abhored by the rich, and finally, his psychotic break after witnessing the brutal end of his daughter. At the end of the day, it was the unspoken bond with his son that concluded the film. I relished in the film's open ending; probably what Boon wanted for the audience — to redeem Ki-taek simply for the burdened heart he had for his family.
Charlie Baker (Adam Driver) in Marriage Story
It's hard to turn a blind eye to the agony of Charlie, perfected by Driver's resting insufferable face as he navigates a divorce while trying to maintain a relationship with his insensitive young son, Henry. Apart from marriage, the film explores the hidden pains of parenting, and more importantly, the pains of drifting apart from your own blood. Even with his world crashing down, Charlie consistently makes desperate attempts to preserve his relationship with Henry. The whole time, everyone in the movie is oblivious to Charlie's frustrations, especially in a scene when he suffers a deep cut in a kitchen mishap and left feeble on the floor, to which Henry asks: "Dad are you okay?" and Charlie replies, hiding the injury: "Yeah, I'm just tired". That scene was hard to watch for some reason, and it's probably because we too have allowed certain nuances to slip by while dissociated from conversations with our fathers.
Bobby Mccray (Michael K.Williams) in When They See Us
There were many provoking moments in When They See Us, as the series not only rings true to an incident that took place before, but merely stands as a small figment to the centuries of racial injustice in America. Bobby should have been a Dad to fight for his son's injustice, but he delivered a plea bargain instead, while urging his son to confess to the crime he did not commit. It's an unforgivable move but the Bobby we knew since the start of series, adored his wife and kids. Driven by fear and oppression, that decision turned out to be the way he chose to protect his son — and what he deemed as the only way — which ultimately destroyed the relationship he had with his family. Fathers don't make the right decisions all the time, but they probably do it because they think it's in our best interests.
Mohan Viswakumar (Sendhil Ramamurthy) in Never Have I Ever
I know what you're thinking. How can Mohan with the perfect hair, perfect smile, perfect charisma — yes that Mohan — land in a category of flawed fathers? Well, unfortunately the show begins on the premise that Mohan had died from a heart attack, survived by a heartbroken wife and a daughter laden with heavy trauma to unpack. That's probably the only problematic thing about him — leaving and never coming back. The series of flashbacks of Mohan in Never Have I Ever were wrenchingly sweet, and they also reminded me that Dads can't be there for us forever. So essentially these flashbacks are memories that we share with our fathers, to which I've made a conscious note to remember the little things. Like that punchline to his Dad joke.
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