Father's Chair (2012) dir. Luciano Moura
Starring: Wagner Moura, Mariana Lima, Lima Duarte, Brás Antunes
By Alan Bacchus
Father’s Chair is a well intentioned family reconciliation drama in which a self-absorbed dictatorial father needs to embark on a life-changing road trip in order to find his missing son and find himself in the process. The real attraction here is seeing the fine Brazilian actor Wagner Moura (Elite Squad) at work. He's considered Brazil's most famous actor, and indeed he holds the picture down even when it threatens to over-indulge in its own self-importance.
Theo (Moura) is a middle- to upper-class workaholic who has recently separated from his wife and has become more angry and controlling of his son. He also has his own father issues having been estranged from his dad for most of his life. The shoe drops for Theo when his son receives a chair for his birthday from the mysterious grandfather. This sets Theo off into an angry rage, which causes his son to run away from home. Theo’s subsequent frantic search for his son takes him through the salt of the earth countryside and poverty stricken slums giving him an eye-opening and cathartic experience.
We can sympathize with Theo and the devastating fear of having a son go missing. Indeed, Moura plays out Theo's franticness with a strong sense of suspense and danger. Theo's road trip sleuthing unfortunately seems to come too easily for him. One step leads conveniently to another lead, resulting in a rather comfortable and conflict-free journey. We also know where this film is headed from the start, and Moura never deviates from its telegraphed trajectory.
By the end Theo learns the necessary lesson to be a better man with a predictable meeting of reconciliation. This film wears its heart on its sleeve, but just a bit too loudly and proudly to elevate itself over the conventionality of the melodramatic contrivances.