“Father to Son” is one of those movies that take its time simmering in order to tell the story. While the pacing is slow, it never gets boring. Due to its characteristic editing, jumping from one temporary context to another continuously and without giving clear explanations, the film can become confusing at times, and even more at the beginning when the viewer does not stop asking questions. It is true that once the movie is seen, it does not leave many answers, but it does leave a clear message. The relationship between father and son is very well reflected, even if they are distant. Father to Son is directed by Hsiao Ya-Chuan, produced by Hou Hsiao-Hsien and starring Michael JQ Huang, Aria Wang, Fu Meng-Po, Chuang Kai-Hsun, Samuel K and Lu Hsueh-Feng among others.
If “Father to Son” stands out in something, it is in his brilliant direction, having all the technical aspects very well balanced. The cinematography by Tse-chung Lin is splendid, with sometimes very vivid colors and in other moments gray and dark tones. When the film jumps to the past (sometimes), it transforms to a beautifully stylized black and white. The camera barely moves, but when it does, it follows the characters at all times, keeping them in the center of the frame. The music composed by Chris Hou and Summer Lei also accompanies the film very well, helping to create the permeating mysterious atmosphere.
While in the film there are several characters that come and go, there are two who accompany the story at all times, and are those of the father and son. Michael JQ Huang and Fu Meng-Po are brilliant respectively, as they excel in presenting the relationship they have between them with their gestures and their looks . You would know that they are father and son just by looking at them for a few seconds without even knowing anything about the context of the film. There are other characters like Newman, which plays an important part in the story, played by Samuel K, who brings charisma to the film.
The story follows Van Pao-Te, played by Michael JQ Huang, a father who runs a hardware store. Van Pao-Te has been diagnosed with a serious illness, and also has a past trauma, and wants to get rid of that pimple inside him, so he decides to travel to his past, going to the place where he grew up years ago, to Japan . On this trip, he will be accompanied by his son Van Dy-Chi, played by Fu Meng-Po, with whom he seems to have a distant and somewhat complicated relationship. The intention of this trip taken by father and son is to find answers about Van Pao-Te’s father, who abandoned him when he was little. The story is told through leaps from the present to the past, from the past to the more distant past, and from the more distant past to the present again, and so on until the end.
The traumas that one may have from the past will be carried by them its whole life, no matter how much they try to overcome them. When it comes to a family trauma or some kind of shortcoming, sometimes it is impossible not to drag it with you. The relationship between Van Pao Te and Van Dy Chi is affected by something, which is not well known to the audience, but as the film progresses, one understands more and more what is happening. No words are needed, just contemplate the images.