I don’t think indie films are a place for experimental filmmakers anymore. Maybe it never was. I still think there was a time some 15 years ago when indie film was a medium for new filmmakers to experiment with unique and new forms of storytelling. That’s what I loved about that niche of filmmaking. With the lack of massive budgets and studio pressure, an artist was able to be an artist. Even with a backer with a light hand, a large budget can prove to be daunting and cast dispersions when it comes to taking risks. These days, and I use that loosely to mean the last five years or so, indie films just seem to be the medium to tell more personal stories that explore a more intimate perspective on an aspect of life. My issue with that is that you tend to see the same sort of film over and over again. “Our Father, the Devil” is sort of guilty of that crime.
The film follows a woman who escaped a war-torn country and has begun making a rather successful life for herself in France, however the scars of her past seem to be permanent mars on her psyche. This premise in and of itself is certainly a story and perspective that’s rarely told but the structure, plot points, and overall story telling methods fall almost perfectly in line with films previously done. That’s not to say it was done wrong. Quite the contrary in fact. This movie was made by the book and from a storytelling perspective is rather flawless, albeit, bland. And I say it’s bland simply because I’ve seen this exact movie before when it was called “All About Nina”. That film had a different premise but followed a very similar plot and narrative structure, which again is not a negative. I actually thought that film was solid as well. I’m just disappointed that indie films no longer break ground, but rather, repave the path that artists paved years and decades prior.
The best part of this film was Ellie Foumbi, the person that wrote and directed this movie. If there’s one takeaway from this movie, it’s that Ellie knows how to make a movie. She strikes me as the perfect candidate to helm a big budget film. She knows how to straddle the line between telling a compelling story without going to far in the wrong places, aside from a sex scene that went on for way too long in my opinion. That aside, she seems to have a deft and steady hand that should be considered when Marvel or a similar behemoth looks for the next indie filmmaker to lead a new franchise. From a technical perspective, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the framing of each scene. The angles and positioning of the camera just felt off throughout the film. I wanted to give this film the benefit of the doubt that the twisted scenes were meant to convey the mental state of the protagonist but the lack of centering on the subject, strange camera angles, and slightly slanted frame was jarring for me as a critic. While most filmgoers won’t notice or care, I certainly do and it was the only time this film felt like it was shot on a microbudget.
This movie is completely solid but is nothing new. It’s a great debut by Foumbi and I am curious to see what she does next. I do hope she grows as an artist and develops as a filmmaker, specifically in terms of confidence to go beyond what she’s already done. If you’re looking for an inventive or new sort of indie movie like I always am when I explore this genre, then this isn’t the movie for you, but it is a solid film and not bad if you’re looking for something a little different to watch on a Friday night.