Our Father

Documentary

Directed By: Lucy Jordan

Where i Watched It: Netflix

English Audio Description Available?: Yes

Description provided By: international Digital Center

Narrated By: Brian

The Plot: A Blumhouse production, the film follows a group of adults who slowly realize, through the advent of DNA sites like Ancestry and 23 and me, that the fathers they all grew up with is not their father. As they all slowly start to uncover the truth, the result is more shocking and disturbing than a simple answer like “we used a donor”, “You’re adopted”, or something still life altering, but relatively normal. no, all their families went to the same fertility doctor, who used his own sperm in place of whatever sperm had been predetermined and placed it in all of their mothers without their knowledge or consent. How little people care, and how frustratingly legal this all is, will horrify you more than anything else.

What Works: We’re coming back to this… i promise.

What Doesn’t Work: So, I like many out there, have been using IMDB to look up credits for years. Color me surprised when I popped over to IMDB to get the details on this film only to find out that the guy who ejaculated everywhere he possibly could, is the credited first billing. These things don’t just aggregate themselves, they are submitted by the production companies. That’s how IMDB gets all this information in the first place. So someone chose to give this asshat first billing in a film that is. Largely comprised of his victims coming together to tell their horrifying truths, and how little repercussions there have been for him. So, I guess he’s a fucking movie star now.

And, you can say, well he is what they are referencing in the title when they say “Our Father”, and to that I would say, why don’t you scoot on over to the Candyman reboot page and see who has dead last billing on that film. Tony Todd, the original Candyman. So, you can fuck with the billing however you want. You can throw someone all the hell the way back at the end, even if you are using them for archival footage.

But now, I’m not even sure he’s not actually in the film. I just assumed that he wasn’t in the film, because that would be terrible, even though there’s a statement at the beginning about the reenactments. Sometimes, an actor is used. Sometimes, not. So, WAS he actually in this? And if so, why? I’ve had such a hard time with this film, struggling on how to talk about it and grade it, because he should not have participated in this film. i know we got all confused about documentaries after Tiger King, but that was all archival footage used of joe Exotic. That dude was in jail, which is why the very few times the actual people who made that documentary interviewed him for the Tiger King series, he’s always on the phone… from jail.

But still, we have to stop making documentaries that glorify these villains and put them front and center, and then make them a star of the movie that should have a moral ending that sounds a hell of a lot more like “this is bad, don’t do this” than attempting to create some weird future event where some major Hollywood star ends up playing him in a limited series, which is exactly what has happened to Tiger King, The Staircase, and Dr Death.

It’s gross. This man is gross. Legally, I’m sure there are things I would want to call him that I cannot, but gross and asshat both seem appropriate. These victims needed this documentary, after FOX already tried to turn their life story into a TV Drama that didn’t even survive it’s initial order, and had its remaining episodes burned off on a Saturday night.

What Works: That being said, these victims deserve this story to be heard, even if the film itself is not what I would want it to be. Who knows, maybe he’s just in archival footage, and the IMDB ranking was just some shitty production assistant. God, I hope so.

The truth is, we don’t really need reenactments anyway. Last year, Attica was extremely powerful, and didn’t force anyone to relive the tragedy through a reenactment. This movie would have worked without the crappy Dateline additions that are rookie choices by this director.

I read another review by another critic that shamed this film for numbering the victims because he felt it dehumanized them. It does not. What it does do, is for those who don’t know the answer to “How many?” Is horrify you as that number continues to grow. When you first reach double digits, that feels like its already enough. Then you’re in the 20’s, 30’s, and it just keeps going.

I remember Best Picture Winner Spotlight was powerful in and of itself, but at the end, it highlighted the other cities that had priests with complaints that had just been moved from one town to the next when a charge occurred. The first screen had a very uncomfortable number of towns. Then the screen changed, and you were still full of more towns. Then it changed again, with even more. I think it was only three, but seeing that massive list was jaw dropping. And that’s the brilliant moment that our Father seeks to recapture. not that these stories aren’t meaningful on their own, but when you start talking to sibling number forty something, you have a sickness that what happened here was simply just as a result of someone had not made something illegal, and someone found that loophole and exploited it.

And, the ending punches you in the face with the reality that these adults lived in Indiana, so there’s no federal law prohibiting it in other states. So the next time you visit a fertility doctor in another state, you might find something else inside you, without your consent, and there’s no law prohibiting that from happening. And if that isn’t the scariest part of the entire documentary, then i don’t know what is.

It’s like finding out that secretly you could murder 8 year old boys on March 18th, such an oddly specific loophole that should never effect you. Until, you watch a documentary about some guy that was using that loophole and murdering kids on that specific day, and you’d just be shocked. how does this happen? I had no idea! Why isn’t this illegal? I’m sure this documentary will tell me that guy got put in jail, everything is fine, and you can’t murder 8 year old boys anymore. only to find out, that it only passed in the one state that it occurred in. And then you look at your 7 year old boy, and realize you have a very short amount of time to fix something you did not know was broken, and that should have been fixed already.

Why the other states, why our federal government haven’t already copied this law, is beyond disappointing.

The Blind Perspective: Well, now i don’t know if the Doctor was in the film or not, and which reenactments featured actors, and which didn’t. I feel like now I need that knowledge to be in the audio description, because I’m creeped the hell out by all of this. Otherwise, it was kind of lazy. There were some times where we could have had names, but we didn’t get them. Sometimes you should repeat names in taking head documentaries, because it’s hard to memorize everyone’s voices. For example, there was a moment where we were told that a group of the siblings were in a room together, but in that scene, I’m fairly certain that only two spoke. That’s hardly a group. So how many were there? If it was just those two, how hard would it have been to tell us which two they were?

It’s all in the little details sometimes. And with talking heads, you often don’t have much else to describe, as they often do one long interview, so they aren’t changing outfits. Most talking head documentaries keep flashing back to the heads in the same location, and it’s all just really creative editing. Which leaves more room to help us follow who is talking to whom, and when we do have a scene where they aren’t in their talking head moment, we can figure out who is there, and where they are now.

Final Thoughts: I batted around many versions of how to grade this film. I saw it a few days ago. i haven’t thought this much about a singular film in a while. But, at the end of the day, I believe these victims stories need to be heard, so we can prevent future victims from other doctors who realize that there is no law prohibiting this behavior. Hopefully, this will lead to some actual change.

Final Grade: B

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