Opening 3 Jun 2010
Forty-five-year-old Richard Minnich, father of five and a data processing administrator, together with current wife Loretta, are rear-ended in a California shopping center. Neither are seriously hurt, yet seven days later Richard awakens not knowing where he is or how to do the simplest things: “I don’t know who I am. Am I supposed to be here?” Written and directed by Rick Minnich, Richard’s oldest son from his first marriage, and Matt Sweetwood, this documentary focuses on Richard’s character: before, and after the car accident when he anoints himself “New Richard” and ultimately discards his past, including his family, although doctors are never able to find medical evidence for Richard’s amnesia.
Cleverly crafted, the filmmakers coax the max from their material. I think the director(s) stray to the detective story genre because they think it is more interesting – it certainly has been more lucrative. But for purists in the audience who expect some resolutions, when the end-credits roll after 84 minutes there is bittersweet disappointment. Equipped with plenty of Super 8mm home movie footage, photographs, and interviews, the film’s many fuzzy areas only strengthen the “thriller” angle.
First wife Karen says, “He can retreat into a place where he feels 100% comfortable… maybe it had something to do with that Farmers Saving’s Bank.” We hear from Harlan, his computer business associate at the time, a story of how Richard, always in control, was fired and blackballed by the bank. It is hard to keep all the interviewees straight and how each one’s version of the story impacts the “big picture.” The interviews are cut back and forth to the degree that information is puzzling as it emerges in dribs and drabs. Even the end is illusive. Production values are good, but the subtitles are ungainly and distracting.
Not entertaining albeit interesting, in Forgetting Dad the implications and impact inherent in the story will spark dialogue because of the core moral issues it raises. Upshot is, just as Rick will never know, neither will we but, do we care? Regrettably what we come no closer to understanding is, why the family has such a hard time Forgetting Dad, considering his propensity for atrocious behavior towards them. (Marinell Haegelin)