Willis Peterson ( Lance Henriksen ) is a disgust, a confused pensioner who constantly harasses his son John ( Viggo Mortensen ) on the flight to Los Angeles. The old man spent his life on a farm in New York State, now he’s supposed to move to sunny California. John has already organized tours of several houses.
In the coming days, the son endured the failures and attacks of the conservative, stubborn family patriarch with stoic calm, from which his mother ( Hannah Gross ) already suffered. Willis also railed against homosexuals and met his son, who lived with his husband Eric ( Terry Chen ). And he offends his daughter Sarah’s children (Laura Linney ), who suffer particularly from the separation of their parents.
The encounter forces Willis and his children to remember the pain of growing up. Willis ( Sverrir Gudnason ) scared off his wife and terrorized his children with his harshness and righteousness. His second wife Jill ( Bracken Burns ) didn’t last long with him either, which fueled his anger. He never looks for mistakes in himself, the fault is always the other.
Viggo Mortensen’s directorial debut was in the Cannes competition program2020. It is a drama that gets under your skin about a father-son relationship in which the two have long since switched roles. Once the father looked after his son and took him with him on the hunt. Now the son takes care of his father, who suffers from the beginning of dementia and can no longer run the farm alone.
It is a melodrama about family ties that remain intact despite all the pressures. Again and again the observer wonders why John did not break all bridges long ago and patiently endure the litanies and provocative failures of the old man. An apology from the father for what he did to the family seems impossible. The positions are too far apart, he is too intolerant of his prejudices. But both know secretly that they cannot escape the family ties. Incidentally, the family conflict is also a metaphor about the rifts in the United States today, the ideological differences between the modern states on the coasts and the conservative fly-over countries inland.
Mortensen congenially combines the past and the present, the scraps of memory flow effortlessly. John can forgive even when you can see how he seethes at the insults of his father. Lance Henriksen stubbornly and relentlessly makes him an Oscar candidate.