My Father Die (2016)

After the murder of his father and his becoming deaf following a blow to the head, Asher trains himself and prepares for the day he will be able to avenge his brother from that man.  When the man is released from jail early, he goes on the path of revenge. Written and directed by Sean Brosnan, this first feature film takes a story of revenge and twists it by keeping it all in the family.  The film takes the usual revenge due to a family member’s death and mixes it up with the murderer also being family (not a spoiler, it is part of the official synopsis).  The way he builds the story is quite straight forward and his characters are all heavily flawed but somewhat attaching in the case of his lead, Asher, and his friend Nana.  All the characters have rough lives in a very poor deep south, but some have goals and are trying to make a better life for themselves, making them more interesting than the others.

Brosnan plays with these characters and their issues in a way that creates an involving environment.  The characters and their situation make the viewer want to see what happens to them and make the viewer want them to succeed.  Having the lead be deaf adds an extra layer to this and is not done in an exploitative way. The cast in My Father Die is strong and talented with none giving an off performance.  The lead of Asher (adult) is the strongest of all and he does not have the luxury of words as his character is deaf and thus mute.  Joe Anderson plays Asher without a word and yet with a strength that does not need words.  His performance carries the film and shows how much can be done with facial expressions, sounds, and talent.  Another performance that is grabbing is Candace Smith as the adult Nana.

Smith plays her in a very real, almost raw way.  She handles a tough scene like a champ and makes it resonate.  Her presence balances out all the violence for a little bit. The film has a great look with some visually impacting choices such as the black and white parts and one scene that comes to mind in particular with the weather above the characters matching their turmoil a bit, as if it were catching up with them.  The cinematography by Marc Shap creates scenes that are at times cozy and at times suffocating.  He creates images that are beautiful and help the story move along while also taking advantage of the film locations and the colors (or lack thereof) in each scene. Going with these images is the score that goes back and forth between heavy and subdued.  Composers Ohad Benchetrit and Justin Small balance the needs of the story with the emotions on screen by adding just the right musical tone.

The most subdued parts or pieces are beautiful to listen to and easy to just have in the background as things go down while the heavier parts punch up the images and action. My Father Die is one of those films that is fascinating to watch with a story that runs deep and characters that are miserable yet trying to reach for goals that may be unattainable or illogical.  The revenge angle of the story works well and adds a new twists to its usual clichés while also somewhat following the sub-genre’s unwritten rules to a point.  The cast’s performances are strong and talented with a score that works perfectly and an interesting use of black and white on only some scenes that works without being gimmicky.