Father’s Day is an opportunity to honor the men who have supported, raised and loved us every day of our lives. Up until recently, the standard fathering duties were those of bread winner, disciplinarian and purveyor of wise advice.
However, we all know there’s no such thing as a typical dad and I plan to illustrate that fact by introducing you to a number of British celluloid patriarchs who demonstrate the range of fatherly love and emotion.
The Misguided but Well-Meaning Dad: In An Education, Alfred Molina plays Jack Mellor, a suburban London father who has a lot to say about what his teenage daughter Jenny (Carey Mulligan) should be doing with her life. His grand plan is for Jenny to get into Oxford and he’s relentless in his advice.
When Jenny meets David Goldman (Peter Sarsgaard), Jack is at first wary of this older man showing an interest in his daughter. However David’s flattery and charm put him at ease to the point that he allows Jenny to go off with this virtual stranger for a weekend trip to Oxford.
When David’s seedy secrets are eventually revealed, Jack comes to his daughter with a cup of tea, an apology and a bit of a gentle rebuke for her part in misleading him. Anyone who is a parent of an adult (or almost adult) recognizes this painful mix of regret, disappointment and the realization that your child has a mind of his or her own.
The Best Friend/Best Man Dad: In About Time Bill Nighy plays Dad (honestly, his character has no other name) to Tim (Domhnall Gleeson). They are ping-pong playing, beachcombing buddies who also have a secret bond – they are capable of going back in time.
This film is technically a rom-com wherein Tim uses his time-travelling powers to get things just right with his lady love, Mary (Rachel McAdams). However, the truly touching love story at the center of About Time is the undeniable affection and respect this father and son have for one another.
The Step-Dad: On to another Richard Curtis creation… When discussing Love Actually the question is inevitably asked, “Which is your favorite love story in the film?” My answer is almost always the Daniel (Liam Neeson) and his step-son Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) plotline.
Daniel’s wife has died and left him with her son Sam who seems to be mooning around about something other than the loss of his mum. Daniel gently weasels out the cause of Sam’s distraction; he is in love for the first time.
And while the whole puppy love thing is adorable and very important to a tween on the verge of puberty, we all know that the important relationship in this scenario is the transition of step-father and step-son to father and son.
The Change of Heart Papa: Billy Elliot tells the tale of a young boy and his dream of becoming a ballet dancer. Problem is he lives in a coal mining household in the Northeast of England. Billy (Jamie Bell) is sent by his father, Jackie (Gary Lewis) to take boxing lessons, but when he finds the local ballet school is sharing facilities with the boxing gym, he is entranced with the dance instead.
With his father and brother embroiled in a miners’ strike, they dismiss his interest as inappropriate for a boy and he’s forbidden to pursue dance lessons any further.
But after witnessing the potential and passion Billy possesses for ballet, Jackie can no longer continue to deny his son of his big break. His support extends to raising the money necessary to get Billy to London for an audition with the Royal Ballet School. Whether he understands their dream or not, a good father wants to see their child’s heart fulfilled.
The Estranged Father: In the film When Did You Last See Your Father? Blake Morrison (Colin Firth) comes home to Yorkshire to spend time with his terminally ill father, Arthur (Jim Broadbent). Through the son’s flashbacks we learn that Arthur was not the most sympathetic, thoughtful or nurturing of dads. He never supported Blake’s career aspirations, called him names in public and embarrassed the family with his incessant flirtations and more.
It’s a story we can all relate to because no matter how we judge the job our parents did raising us, there comes a point in time as adults when we have to reconcile how much that upbringing had to do with forming the people we eventually became.
The Godfather: Poor orphaned Harry Potter! His parents were murdered in the process of saving their baby boy’s life. He’s left in the care of his non-magical aunt and uncle where the powers that be feel he will be safest from He-Who–Must–Not-Be-Named.
Little does the young wizard know there’s a man out there who Lily and James Potter wanted to raise their son in the very real likelihood of their untimely deaths. Unfortunately, that godfather, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) was away in prison when Harry was given over to the horrible Muggly Dursleys.
Young Potter actually has several father figures throughout his time at Hogwarts – Arthur Weasley, Hagrid, Professors Moody, Lupin, Dumbledore, and Snape. It takes a village to raise a wizard like Harry, I suppose.
So which father do you most identify with or perhaps secretly wish you’d had? Share your opinions, suggestions and Father’s Day wishes in the comments section below.