Published Aug 16, 2012Rarely does a documentary delve into a person's psyche with the raw emotion of Tony Asimakopoulos's Fortunate Son, a film about the storyteller himself and his familial roots.
Giving the audience reason to squirm in their seats, this exploration of self as an amalgamation of past signifiers impresses with its sheer honesty and openness, treating the subject without slant or bias to give us the bigger picture of what connects a family. What starts out as "a film with my family" becomes an analysis of how the past affects the future.
Tony, a heroin addict in his youth (now clean for 20 years), turns the camera on his Greek-immigrant parents to look back at the terror he caused and how they came to terms with his substance abuse issues. Still repairing the damage he caused so many years ago, he finds himself continuing to rebuild the relationship with his parents, as well as rebuilding his life. Further compounding the grief, his parents open up about their relationship and admit that they've struggled to stay together all these years, never truly happy, but merely settling.
Tony becomes engaged to Natalie and we witness as she treads lightly into the shaky family dynamic, trying to juggle being thrust into the spotlight of Tony's film while also finding her footing within the family. Things come to a head when the four travel to Greece to visit the villages where Tony's parents grew up. What is supposed to be a joyous occasion only serves to increase the tension, with several cathartic moments erupting on-screen.
Interspersed with footage from Tony's dramatic short films created during his drug days, we are afforded an illustration of his frame of mind as a youth, including his thoughts of his parents and their relationship as he was growing up.
While Fortunate Son is a bit muddled, at times, the narrative is simple: Tony's quest to provide a snapshot of his immigrant parents becomes a story of what binds families together, and what it means to be loved. (EyeSteelFilm)