Monday, December 21, 2009

Is Everybody Really Fine?

Everybody's Fine, a new Robert DeNiro movie, opened a few weeks ago. Here are the details.

Here is a synopsis of the film: A widower who realized his only connection to his family was through his wife sets off on an impromptu road trip to reunite with each of his grown children.

The title of the movie is a reference to what his late wife used to say to him whenever he asked about how his kids were doing. She would say, "everybody's fine," and he would move on without getting more details.

I had the opportunity to pre-screen the movie before it came out. For the most part, I thought it did a terrific job of showing how fathers, through their emotional absence, can let their children's lives pass them by. DeNiro's character, despite providing materially for his four kids, knows little about them, they know little about him, and he has no real relationships with any of them.

There were some very poignant moments throughout the film that realistically show the pain and problems that father absence causes both children and their dads.

However, the final moments of the film contradict the message that the first 90 minutes so effectively communicated. His surviving children all show up to his house for Christmas, and as they are all sitting around the dinner table, DeNiro's character says, "For the first time, I can honestly say that everybody's fine."

The problem is that two of his grandchildren were sitting at the table facing the exact same problem his four children had - they were growing up in situations that would not allow them to know their fathers!

So, they establish throughout the film that when children and their fathers lack a good relationship, it causes problems. But then at the end, we are told that two children growing up without their fathers are "fine."

I don't get it... If you have seen the film, I would love to get your thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't seen the film, sorry. I have seen this time and time again in my profession as a therapist, though. Mothers role in the house is often seen as being the kin-keeper and the family keeps the emotinoal stuff their dad unless it is need of some kind of intervention. This may be because fathers aren't good at listening to emotions so the family keeps him out of it or because the family doesn't look up to dad as much as they do to mom about emotional things. The question is how do we as families change this tradition?


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