Daddy Dearest


TORONTO—Five years ago, Guy Maddin stole the festival with his six-minute The Heart of the World; this year, the Winnipeg Wonder did it again with the 16-minute My Dad Is 100 Years Old. Isabella Rossellini’s tenderly eccentric and shrewdly childlike tribute to the founding figure of Italian neorealism visualizes Roberto Rossellini as a big belly against which she and her siblings used to hurl themselves and which continues to speak to her. “Dad, Dad—tell me again,” she cries, explaining that her father stayed in bed all day, thinking so much that he needed ice to cool his overheated brain. Rossellini, who wrote the script, takes evident pleasure in playing her father’s aesthetic antagonists—”Go to hell, Roberto, we are artists”—including Alfred Hitchcock, David O. Selznick, and Federico Fellini, as well as an angelic Charlie Chaplin and her mother, Ingrid Bergman. Another sort of anti-Rossellini, Maddin frames this grave, hilarious psychodrama as a sort of distressed educational film, manfully accepting his own stylistic criticism. (“My father would call those camera moves immoral, because they are pretentious and unnecessary.”) Isabella’s final words are addressed to her father: “I don’t know if you’re a genius or not, but I love you, Dad.”

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 13, 2005

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