“Sr.” Film Review
“Sr.” was released on Netflix on Dec. 2. It’s a documentary tributing filmmaker Robert Downey Sr.
Produced by Robert Downey Jr. and directed by Chris Smith, the documentary highlights Robert Downey Sr. as a filmmaker and his relationship with his son.
Robert Downey Jr. stars in movies like “Zodiac” (2007), “Due Date” (2010) and Marvel’s “Iron Man” and “Avengers” series.
Working alongside his father throughout the process of this project, Robert Downey Jr. wanted to get to know his father better and explore their complicated relationship before his passing. Jr. also wanted other people to get to know the process of Sr.’s filmmaking during his career.
Robert Downey Sr. is responsible for creating films such as “Chafed Elbows” (1966), “Greaser’s Palace” (1972) and “Hugo Pool” (1997) all of which are highlighted in the documentary. They’re described to be random and up to the interpretation of the viewers.
Alan Arkin, an actor who spoke about Robert Downey Sr. in this documentary, said the films were filled with a “wonderful bunch of un-actory-looking-people.” The casts were reflective of real people, not always the typical actors.
Sr. explains the thought-process and inspiration behind making these films. He stated they were not so much about the movie itself, but more so, made to be a mirror of society.
The documentary shows his dedication to the craft by revealing the filmmaker would go as far as continuing the process of a movie with little to no budget or shifting to making movies out of still shots because the crew ran out of film.
This film does an excellent job of describing Robert Downey Sr.’s career as a filmmaker, while also revealing his technique as a director when including scenes of his commentary on how the documentary should be shot or edited to his satisfaction.
These parts of the film, showing Sr. inputting his director's knowledge, give an in-depth look at his personality.
Another great aspect of this film is its ability to convey the evolution of Robert Downey Jr.'s relationship with his father throughout his filmmaking career.
Jr. talked about getting assimilated to the filmmaking setting and starring in a few of his father’s films when he was young and later on.
There is an important transparency about Sr.’s health decline as a result of Parkinson’s disease and its effects on the father and son relationship in the documentary.
It would not be such a raw story about the filmmaker and his son if it was not open about the true struggle of dealing with death even before it occurs.
The editing style of the film creates a cohesive piece discussing Robert Downey Sr.’s life.
There are clips of Sr. films and clips of Jr. acting in some of these films to give context to the viewers. The overall black and white filter over the project-making process sets these parts of the film apart from the rest, along with building up the emotion for scenes showing Sr.’s health.
Robert Downey Sr. passing provides an emotional ending to the film, after the father and son pair had finished their project together.
There seemed to be a few unanswered questions between Jr. and Sr. in the documentary, but this fact made the story real and representative of true family relationships.
A scene with Robert Downey Jr. reflecting on his relationship with his father ties the film together. He states the documentary is a “contemplation of death, not in a morose way, in a ‘We’re here. We do stuff. We’re gone.’ kind of way.”
The documentary exceeded expectations, as it revealed a lot about Robert Downey Jr.’s relationship with his father in an open and deep way.
“Sr.” is revealing of the relationship between a father and son making the most of simple memories before death despite any sort of past they shared.
Cassie Baylis is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.
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