A take on David Gilmour’s memoir, The Film Club
by Jahzeel Dionne V. Ybasco
The Film Club is a memoir of a father and how he has established a relationship with his son through a series of movies they watched together. The book is well written, with bits and pieces of how the father struggled to understand and guide his son, but more of it has been devoted to stringing short movie analysis together.
Since the book is a memoir, I don’t have the power to completely judge it. I can only look at it from an angle where and how the author wants me to see it. It also puts me in a difficult position: am I supposed to review the book only through its contents, or should I include in my review the Father image David Gilmour has given himself, which after all is what the book is about. There is one more question that needs to be answered: how can I judge David Gilmour as a father when I haven’t even seen him in real life?
From the onset, I believed it was too good to be true. A father letting his son drop out of school is unheard of—in my family, that means world war. What kind of father would want his son to neglect his studies? Mr. Gilmour has somehow achieved what perfect fathers can never achieve: being an ideal father! He did not only let Jesse drop out of high school, but also tolerated his smoking, drinking, and his girls. I observed the differences between Asian culture and Western culture in terms of parenting but what surprised me was how David cleverly handled the situation when his son admitted he did not know what to do at his young age. The older Gilmour was there to be the wind beneath the wings of the younger Gilmour. David did not even say anything against Jesse doing the dishes in a local bar.
I got the message that David struggled to bring up and educate his son by showing him different movies and trying to impress upon him what happens to people who don’t have any direction in life, once again, in the movies. Movies as I know are products of directors’ numerous interpretations of life and characters. In movies, high school drop outs can turn out to be millionaires. Yes, it may happen in real life if one is as brilliant as Einstein, or say, Bill Gates. Sadly, Jesse was never just a character neither a Bill Gates. He had a life and apparently he did not live it. His father served as his mentor which is a plus because Jesse was certainly not a Holden Caulfield.
That Jesse managed to decide by himself to go back to his studies has saved David’s reputation and his book. All through out the memoir, I was under the impression that David wanted the readers to believe that this was his initial goal, to let Jesse figure out for himself that he definitely needed education. At this point I wondered whether David subconsciously set a mold for his son to follow. Being a television host and a film critic, he gave tips to his son what points of the movie to look at. Was he unconsciously planning to turn Jesse into a film critic, too? If this was the case, then Jesse’s liberty was the sugarcoat to David’s film critic core.
Most probably, I have a strong father-image in my head that is why David, ideal though he may have seemed, fell short in my Father-Figure standards. I have realized that what makes the memoir so compelling to other people is the father spent most of his time analyzing movies that he was not able to analyze his son until it was too late. There was no more time. This usually happens to father-son relationships in the world. Fathers are too busy trying their best to provide the best for their families than being real fathers. Still, I have to commend David for redeeming himself at the end of his last chapter when he saw his son, standing on stage, thinking he was cool. He was very cool. At last, I had a glimpse of the father, not just the movie critic, in him.
When all is said and done, I have to admit that I can only see a portion of fatherhood David Gilmour wanted his readers to see. As a director, or a critic, he may not have intentionally wanted me to see this part, nor did he expect me to look at it from a different point of view. He may or may not have expected a reader to disbelieve he did not punish his son. However, as any director, the members of the audience also have eyes. We can look at a story from a different angle, no matter how good a director’s cut is.