Eye For Film >> Movies >> Father And Solider (2022) Film Review
Father And Solider
Reviewed by: Richard Mowe
The failures of the French state to recognise the contributions of its former combatants from the colonies during the First World War form the basis of Mathieu Vapepied’s searing take on not only the inhumanity of conflict but also the bond between a father and son.
The last Sengalese Tirailleur or infantryman only died in 1998 in his village in Senegal. He was to have been recognised belatedly for his bravery with the award of his Legion d’Honneur but had no wish to attend any ceremony.
Vadepied enlisted the help of Omar Sy, whom he had met on The Intouchables when he was art director. Sy’s brooding physical presence sits at the beating heart of a film which in its depiction of life in the trenches has all the power of some of the great war films of cinema including Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet On The Western Front.
Some of the recruits were forcibly removed from their homeland and plunged into the gory horrors or a war they knew nothing against an unknown enemy and thousands of miles away.
Sy establishes a warm and caring relationship with his son (Alassane Diong) with whom he comes into conflict when the latter is promoted for expediency’s sake to be an officer and starts giving him orders. It’s a touching and painful confrontation which is evoked to perfection in the complicity of the two actors.
The Fula language is used for most of the dialogue and the film was shot in a village in the Ardennes with the locals mingling with the “imported” Sengalese actors to create a simple authenticity.
In throwing a spotlight on these neglected and unsung heroes Vadepied does an invaluable service to their memories that no amount of medals and ceremonies could achieve. His vision also reflects on the melting pot that has created contemporary French society but which so often is hidden from view.Reviewed on: 19 May 2022