Memories of my Father

This time last year we had just returned form Colombia and were particularly fascinated by the transformation of former cartel-capital Medellin, the setting for this heartwarming family memoir with a hard centre of Columbian politics. It is based on the autobiographical novel by  Héctor Abad Faciolince, son of the Colombian professor, doctor, and human-rights campaigner, Héctor Abad Gómez – the father of the title.

The story is told through the eyes of Héctor jnr, (Nicolás Reyes Cano) who is the only boy – and as a result rather indulged –  in a family of five sisters, mother,  a nun, and an aged matriarch, Tatà. I loved the narrative arch of the present being filmed in black and white, while Héctor’s 1970s childhood is in glorious technicolour, appropriate for golden memories of a period he was not old enough to understand properly – but is observing for  future posterity.

Héctor Snr (played Pedro Almodóvar favourite, Javier Cámara) is an adoring and wise father, a much-loved teacher, devoted to trying to improve the lives of those in the favelas. The dramas of family life are beautifully observed – the family meals, the squabbles, the long-suffering mother-hen (Patricia Tamayo) trying to keep it all together – as is the basic humanity that holds the family together. As a backdrop – and reminiscent of the similar family-based Roma – is the civil war raging around them, of bombs and executions fuelled by the drug barons and the CIA.

It might be a tad long but for me, director Fernando Trueba has delivered a film that entertains and educates awhile radiating a feel-good factor that is so missing in many films. I loved every minute of it.

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