In Memory Of My Father

In Memory Of My Father


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Chris, Jeremy and Matt have just lost their father. At his request, they filmed his death, though he had probably hoped they would do so more considerately. A former Hollywood producer, he wanted to go out in style, so organised a big farewell party. Now the brothers are attempting to film that, though not everybody thinks it's appropriate.

On his death, their father left behind a much younger mistress, Judy (Greer), who only now feels free to declare her passion for Matt (Keeslar). Meanwhile, Jeremy (Sisto) is agonising over his wife's close new friendship with a lesbian and agrees to try ecstasy for the first time. Chris (Jaymes) is negotiating a complex friendship with his ex, Nicolle (Tom), but has brought his wide-eyed 17-year-old girlfriend Christine (Lakin) along to keep him company. And their friend Eric (Cole) is brokenhearted and looking for a fight after splitting from his girlfriend Meadow (Sisto).

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Whilst this is going on, the older guests, their father's close associates, are trying to respect his memory. But chief among them is the uncle who, many years ago, ran off with the boys' mother.

It sounds like a familiar Hollywood farce, but here writer/director/producer/star Jaymes has done something really clever. Though the tropes of the story are farcical, the emotional reactions of the characters are realistic, and perfectly judged. Sharp dialogue, delivered with beautiful comic timing, produces some real laugh out loud moments, yet there is a continuous undercurrent of dismay that a death should be responded to with such callousness, self-interest and vacuity. What's more, we are made acutely aware of how that approach is harming those who take it, with Chris in particular gradually losing not only his friends but his self-respect. In the most overtly unpleasant role, Jaymes delivers a masterly performance - viewers will alternately condemn him and feel sympathy. Matt comes across initially as a nice guy, but goes on to show himself capable of considerable cruelty, apparently with no real conscience. It is only Jeremy, foolish and befuddled, who seems to learn anything from his experiences.

In order to function, this film has to rely on cliches, so aspects of the story may feel overfamiliar, but in this way Jaymes manages to make his complicated plot seem entirely natural and believable. The story takes a while to build, meandering around its characters as a drunken party guest might, but it's paced like a party and will grip your attention at its peak, leaving you with uncomfortable questions to ask in the morning.

Reviewed on: 04 Jun 2008
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After their Hollywood producer father dies, three brothers hold a wake for him, but each has his own agenda and things don't quite go to plan.
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Director: Christopher Jaymes

Writer: Christopher Jaymes

Starring: Jeremy Sisto, Chris Jaymes, Matt Keeslar, Judy Greer, Eric Michael Cole, Nicholle Tom, Monet Mazur, Pat Healy, Christine Lakin, Meadow Sisto

Year: 2005

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: USA, Austria


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