Memories of My Father review – deeply felt memoir of Medellín’s public-health champion | Film

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Javier Cámara is the Spanish actor with the gentle, open, everyman face who has been a stalwart repertory player for Pedro Almodóvar for around 20 years, particularly in the mysterious and beautiful 2002 film Talk to Her; Cámara unforgettably played Benigno, the nurse tending to a young woman in a coma, believing that he must always talk to her. Now he gives a wonderful richness and warmth to this very affecting movie, directed by Fernando Trueba; it is based on the true story of Héctor Abad Gómez, the Colombian public-health activist and prominent government critic who in 1987 was shot dead in Medellín by far-right paramilitaries. It is adapted from the 2005 memoir of Gómez by his son, the now prominent Colombian author Héctor Abad Faciolince, entitled El Olvido Que Seremos (which is the movie’s original Spanish title), meaning Forgotten We’ll Be. (It is taken from the Borges poem, The Epitaph: “Already we are the oblivion we shall be.”)

Cámara plays Gómez, the professor, husband and father to a lively and talented family of mostly girls, and one somewhat pampered son: Hector, played by Nicolás Reyes Cano as a moon-faced boy and then by Juan Pablo Urrego as an earnest, bespectacled literature student. Gómez is adored by his family, by his students and by the local community in Medellín, in whose streets he is an inspiring figure, striding around proselytising for what he calls the five basic human rights: air, water, food, shelter and affection. But he is continuously harassed by the authorities for these progressive views, and forced to take an evasive sabbatical abroad at one stage and finally early retirement. The movie has “present-tense” scenes in the 1980s, shot in black and white, but Hector’s ecstatically remembered 1970s childhood is shot in sunlit colour.

This is a wonderfully sympathetic, deeply felt and tenderly funny family drama with a novelistic attention to details and episodes – a little like Alfonso Cuáron’s Roma, about growing up in a similar era in Mexico City. Cámara thoroughly inhabits the figure of Gómez: unselfconsciously inspiring and lovable.

Memories of My Father is released on 26 March on Curzon Home Cinema.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Memories of My Father review – deeply felt memoir of Medellín’s public-health champion | Film

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