Film Review: ‘The Father’s Shadow’

  • Variety
Film Review: ‘The Father’s Shadow’
Brazilian “The Father’s Shadow” is one of those occasional arthouse quasi-horror films, like “The Spirit of the Beehive” or Aussie “Celia,” in which the supernatural elements seem a poetical extension of a child protagonist’s distress at the inexplicable realities of the adult world. Recipient of a special jury prize (as well as an acting nod to its young lead) at Fantasia, Gabriela Amaral’s sophomore feature could parlay critical acclaim into offshore distribution beyond the festival circuit. Not entirely satisfying, it’s nonetheless a curiously poignant fable of profound premature loss, both enhanced and somewhat muddled by its slippery occult elements.

Nine-year-old Dalva radiates a sullen suspicion that’s off-puttingly unusual for her age. But she has good reason for resentment: Her mother has recently died, and father Jorge (Julio Machado) is not coping well, to say the least. When not toiling at a toxic Sao Paolo building job he hates,
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