If you're close to you're close to your parents, you've probably heard them reminisce about "the old times." The good ole days when they they used to go dancing at the crowded club down the block, when they were struggling to rub two pennies together in their 5th floor walk-up--before you came into the picture. The long-winded tales often end with a heavy stare into the distance. If you're like me, you kinda just...let them have that moment of silence on their own. But in writer/director Christian Tafdrup's Danish drama, PARENTS, he sends them down memory lane.
Premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival, PARENTS asks the question: who would we be if we could do it all over again? Would we make the same mistakes, because we know they're just learning trials? Would we change our own narrative? Vibeke and Kjeld (Miri Ann Beuschel and Elliot Crossett Grove) have just watched their only child Esben (Anton Honik) move out of their house, without a single tear in his eyes--grabbed his things and quickly waved goodbye. The seemingly final page in a beautiful story of their lives, Vibeke and Ejeld immediately slump into an autopiloted state, void of purpose and even dialogue. Until they decide to move back into their old studio apartment partly to downsize the space in their now empty home, but also to rekindle that ole feeling they had when they were young. That's when their life takes a startling turn, and they find themselves back in their old bodies. For most people, this is the dream. But for Vibeke and Kjeld, it's life-shattering.
In the saturated climate of sequels and remakes, the originality of PARENTS is one that catches you completely off guard. And, surprisingly, the idea of two-middle aged parents going back in time isn't even the most shocking thing that happens in it. That's just what makes it so refreshing yet strange to watch. Not only are Vibeke and Ejeld's lives dramatically altered, but Esben's relationship with them is as well. Tafdrup delivers an engrossing portrayal of youth, love, and yearning that's highlighted by gorgeous photography and affecting performances.
I hope this gets a major release.
Rating: A (***** out of *****)