Grim. Like, Dostoyevsky levels of grim.
The opening scene is a woman dragging her kids by the arm down to a factory and declaring, “I am Biljana Stojkovic. The wife of Nikola Stojkovic. I have a bottle of petrol in my hand. If you don’t pay my husband’s remaining salaries, and the severance package you’ve owed him for two years now, I’ll set both me and my children on fire.” Welcome to the movie.
The film focuses on Nikola’s struggle to regain custody of his kids after they are put into care in the wake of their mother’s self-immolation. He is told that he isn’t fit to look after his kids since he is only a day labourer with no long-term secure employment, that he hasn’t the provided adequately for his kids because they don’t own a computer, and only have cold water in the house. Basically, he’s been pushed into poverty, then blamed for being there. And they’re like, “Why haven’t you got full-time secure employment?” and I’m like, “You gonna hire him on a full-time secure contract? No? Then shut the fuck up then.”
Father is kinda a road trip movie, as Nikola makes his way on foot to Belgrade to deliver his appeal to the government minister. Along the way he is helped by people he meets on the road. Much like the film Herself, this is about a parent moving heaven and earth for their kids, aided by the kindness of strangers. A film full of quiet dignity and strength.