NPR logo 'Romulus, My Father'

Arts & Life

'Romulus, My Father'

Romulus (Eric Bana) and Christina (Franka Potente) are a troubled pair who pull the audience down with them in Romulus, My Father. Courtesy Magnolia Pictures hide caption

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Courtesy Magnolia Pictures

Romulus (Eric Bana) and Christina (Franka Potente) are a troubled pair who pull the audience down with them in Romulus, My Father.

Courtesy Magnolia Pictures
  • Director: Richard Roxburgh
  • Genre: Drama
  • Running Time: 104 minutes

In the opening scene of Richard Roxburgh's pretty but ponderous melodrama, a handful of seemingly dead bees comes back to life, warmed in the hand of a loving father. Romulus is an Eastern European immigrant in Australia, struggling to keep a farm going and anxious that his adolescent son Raimond have a shot at happiness.

When we meet them and those bees come to life, everything seems fine, although Raimond clearly misses his mom. Turns out he's better off without her: Christina (Run Lola Run star Franka Potente) suffers from bipolar disorder, something Raimond's father (Eric Bana) finds nearly as hard to accept as Raimond does.

The family is barely scraping by, even without the problems of mom's latest pregnancy (by the brother of dad's best friend), and when Romulus starts to go off the rails, too ... well, suffice it to say that the boy must look inward, and that that's not enough.

Tough and sentimental simultaneously, the film boasts fine performances, but its story proves so downbeat and attenuated that it's hard to stay engaged.

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