Film Review – ‘In Memory of My Father’ premieres at film festival

Bethany Hopkins

Christopher Jaymes’ dark comedy “In Memory of My Father” approaches death with the refreshing, odd sort of realism you’d expect from a film featuring a catchy tune called “Daddy’s Dead.”
The film, which had three screenings at the 21st Santa Barbara International Film Festival, opens with grown brothers Chris (Christopher Jaymes) and Jeremy (Jeremy Sisto) filming their famous father’s death and the family’s reaction. These first scenes are rife with cliché-stiff dialogue, cheap cinematic ploys, and stereotypes like dad’s trophy girlfriend Judy (Judy Greer).
However, before the audience can write off the film as predictable, the mood shifts. As the camera-happy brothers film less, their characters become believable, even complex. This subtle twist still requires sitting through a horribly phony beginning. Jaymes explained after the screening that he “didn’t want [the film] to know that it was intelligent,” but this Woody Allen-like quality is not that obvious to the viewer.
Jaymes mainly follows the brothers’ dysfunctional reaction to their father’s death. Most of this plays out in the perversion and breakdown of their romantic relationships. Chris admits to dating a 17 year old, Jeremy confronts his lesbian-leaning wife, and Judy seduces oldest brother Matt (Matt Keeslar). The film succeeds because the family members are sincere in their absurdity. Its focus is strangely not on the brothers’ grief. Like the Hollywood culture that surrounds them, death looms everywhere but is rarely addressed directly. Mostly, the brothers try to escape from their fate: relationships, Hollywood, death, etc. The film never lets them succeed. Overall the message is clear: There will be humor, but no happily ever after ending.
And that, after all, is pretty true to life.