SXSW Film Review: Our Father

Off-kilter dramedy looks to reconcile an uneasy sisterhood

Baize Buzan and Allison Torem in SXSW 2021 selection Our Father

Our Father is a film about estrangement – from other people, from the world at large, from yourself. Specifically, it’s about the fraught relationship between sisters Beta (Baize Buzan) and Zelda (Allison Torem). Reconnected by the death of their father, the two learn about a mysterious Uncle Jerry included within the will.

In a desperate bid at building a sincere relationship with anyone in their lives, the two set out to find out who he is and why he disappeared.

Though told through the familiar window dressing of a low-budget indie dramedy, writer/director Bradley Grant Smith’s film operates on a peculiar wavelength. You wouldn’t be wrong to read some situations and exchanges held within as a bit stilted and awkward, particularly in the early goings. However, it finds its footing closer to the halfway mark as an offbeat odyssey with outwardly small tangible stakes, but calamitous emotional ones. As it continues to branch out and it introduces more characters, the feeling becomes less of a clumsy one and more of a specific vibe to get in tune with.

Buzan and Torem portray these sisters with a skillful balance of quiet restraint and volatile angst. Beta just broke up with her boyfriend and has been sleeping in her car. Zelda is behind on her rent and has a temper – she doesn’t take shit from anybody, at the resentment of the rest of their family. They’re two lost souls in a world that seems to take pleasure in antagonizing them, the pair often coming into confrontations with men in particular. Whether being hit on and then chastised for not appreciating the compliment or being touched inappropriately by a half-brother, life has it out for them. They’re drawn at once closer together by this and then further apart by their differences, in a constant state of discordance.

It all leads to a somewhat ambiguous finale that carries a disquieting, poignant weight and sweetness all the same. This is an understated movie that will sneak up on you with its emotional motives. It’s designed to lull you in with its idiosyncrasies and send you off with a thoughtful treatise on what it means to have a relationship with someone–and if maybe sometimes you’re just not supposed to.

Our Father

Narrative Feature Competition

World Premiere

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SXSW 2021, SXSW Film 2021, Our Father, Baize Buzan, Allison Torem

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