The Other F Word

The Other F Word


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

What happens when youthful anger runs headlong into the responsibilities of adulthood, when people who wanted to set fire to the world suddenly find themselves in the position of shaping the world for someone else? A generation of punks are now parents, and this documentary explores the experiences of some of those confronting that other F word - fatherhood.

Let me say from the outset that it's difficult for me to be objective about this as several of my best friends are in that position, and are raising some of the coolest, most confident kids I've had the honour of meeting. It's odd watching a film that presents them as curiosities to another world, but The Other F Word is never patronising and succeeds impressively in doing what all the best community documentaries do, entertaining insiders whilst providing a good introduction for strangers. As long as you don't loathe the music you'll love this film. It's lively, good humoured, and extensive in scope. It offers a variety of perspectives but the driving theme is a celebration of the joy that families can bring.

Historically, many people came to punk from difficult backgrounds. In that context it's always harder to be confident about getting it right, and more so when society has terrible expectations of you, but this is really just an amplified version of what all parents go through. Worrying about being away from the kids whilst touring with a band is just another version of the perennial problem with being a breadwinner. So this is a film that speaks to parents of all kinds, and even to non-parents as it tackles the issues of growing up: "You want to die before you get old, and then you get old and you don't want to die."

A great collection of contributers bring depth and complexity as well as celebrity status to the film - Tony Adolescent, Lars Frederiksen, Rob Chaos, Joe Escalante - with Jim Lindberg of Pennywise the man on a journey at its heart. Wanting to get it right, Lindberg is reassessing his life. He's also reassessing punk.

There's a contradiction in this film that is perhaps a consequence of the commercialisation of the genre. Is punk all about selling irresponsibility? It's hard to see the likes of Joe Strummer and Jello Biafra in that light. More accurate, but less palatable to record companies, is the notion that punk is about doing things one's own way. All of the men here are approaching fatherhood in their own way, without a map, without even the comforts of convention - but in doing so they have the power to reinvent it and, perhaps, to value it all the more.

Reviewed on: 25 Jan 2012
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An encounter with punk heroes who are adjusting to fatherhood.
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Director: Andrea Blaugrund Nevins

Writer: Andrea Blaugrund Nevins

Starring: Jim Linberg, Tony Adolescent, Lars Frederiksen, Flea, Ron Reeves, Fat Mike

Year: 2011

Runtime: 88 minutes

Country: USA


Glasgow 2012

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