Inspired by Irish playwright John Millington Synge’s ‘Playboy Of The Western World’, Sean Brosnan’s directorial debut is a heady blend of striking imagery and bloody confrontation. As an actor Brosnan has busied himself with interesting low-budget fare, without ever leaving any notable impression, but as a director he may well have found his true calling.
Treading a well-trodden road of familial revenge, My Father Die’s plot is simple yet effective. Brutal father Ivan (Stretch) kills his eldest son in a fit of jealous pique while youngest son Asher (Anderson) watches on. Himself beaten, Asher becomes deaf and mute after his father is imprisoned. Released early, a bloody, fateful collision is inevitable.
With the macabre backstory shot in stark black and white, and musical beats hitting as hard as the protagonist’s punches, My Father Die is as arty as it is brutal. Essentially a thriller, the sparse plot careers towards a predictable finale, but it is how Brosnan guides the journey that is impressive. It is to his great credit that the visceral, Tarantino-esque violence is both shocking and surprising, with quieter moments observed with respectful distance. Never do you feel you have a true understanding of the extent to which the characters will go in their quest for vengeance. And yet, equally, you slowly garner some empathy for their motivations.
Much of this comes from the intensity of the performances. Perhaps due to Brosnan’s own experiences, the cast respond to his direction, providing note perfect delivery of characters that are truly lost, with little to break the monotony of their lives prior to the wave of destruction that overpowers them. Anderson has always been an interesting actor, with a combination of independent films (Horns, The Crazies) and mainstream television (Hannibal, The Divide) to his name. With My Father Die he demonstrates subtlety amid explosions of passion as the “retard” Asher, a young man endlessly underestimated by those around him. It is a performance of real depth, and with impressive support from Stretch and Candace Smith as the third wheel in a bizarre love-triangle, this is a film with a true ensemble.
A festival favourite, My Father Die deserves to be the film that puts Brosnan on the map. Co-produced by famous father Pierce (who would have been interesting casting as the malevolent Ivan), it is a debut feature that instantly releases him from any parental shadow, and bodes well for future works. A stylish, violent and engaging thriller that draws on the best of Tarantino, and with nods to Tony Scott’s True Romance, My Father Die is one to seek out as soon as possible.
MY FATHER DIE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: SEAN BROSNAN / STARRING: JOE ANDERSON, GARY STRETCH, KEVIN GAGE, CANDACE SMITH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (US); OFFICIAL UK RELEASE DATE TBA