Our Father

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Our Father

11 May, 2022
1 hr 37 mins
Documentary Crime
Streaming on: Netflix
Critic's Rating
Our Father


Lucie Jourdan’s treatment of the documentary is childish and flimsy, but the pain and suffering of her subjects are not
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Our Father Review : Forgive not father—and this documentary—for he has sinned too many times

Critic's Rating: 3.0/5
STORY: When vulnerable women went to Indianapolis’ hotshot fertility doctor, Donald Cline, with hopes of starting a family through scientific means, their wishes were almost always granted. Decades later, their curious kids receive information they have always dreaded—they are not who they thought they are. Lucie Jourdan’s treatment of the documentary is childish and flimsy, but the pain and suffering of her subjects are not.

REVIEW: Imagine one day you wake up to the news of your father being a random private medical practitioner who had impregnated your mother without consent… that’s Jacoba Ballard’s life in her 40s. And that of 94 others in the state of Indiana. The man in question is doctor Donald Cline, and the answer to why he did what he did is something that Jourdan DOES NOT attempt to uncover in her half-baked documentary. The gravity of the situation, and the unsuspecting victims that find themselves in these unusually vulnerable circumstances, deserved a more serious treatment of their horrid stories pertaining to their origins. ‘Our Father’, just as the dramatic title suggests, gives in to the production house’s—Blumhouse Productions, make horror movies; you get the drift—need to incorporate deafening horror music in the middle of an emotionally charged moment between a mother and a son, and the like.

‘Our Father’, with all its biblical references—a lingering motif in the 137-minutes-long film—presents plausible conspiracy theories as to why this doctor—a man of science AND religion in equal measure—thought it was him ‘giving’ those women (these hopeless families) a shot at nurturing life. Was it God Complex? A potential affiliation to an orthodox cult hints at that being a possibility. Was it the need to absolve himself of his sins? A rather regrettable instance of Cline’s past points in that direction, too.

As conniving of a perpetrator Cline is, he is also a pistol-welding mobster. In one of his meetings with his own ‘children’, he was, allegedly, seen carrying a gun and ranking these innocent participants based on their achievements in life. Even in disgrace, Cline was in control. Ironically, he kind of was. In a disgusting detail, we are told that he would masturbate while his eager patients waited in the adjoining room hoping for their partner’s lab-enhanced sperms or the sperm of a medical student to be implanted in them. Little did they know that the beloved doctor, one they had blind faith in, was breaking every code of conduct there ever was—morally, medically, psychologically and emotionally.

Therefore, ‘Our Father’ being a flimsy representation of this elusive Dr Quack, is extremely appalling. How dare you pick these stories and give them token time just so you could fit in as many ‘siblings’ as possible? By numbering them, aren’t you trivialising their identity-crisis-induced pain? ‘Our Father’s finest moments come in specs—when a mother shared how her husband broke down in tears upon learning his daughter is not his, and said, to the doctor who wasn’t even listening, “You have taken everything from me.” Or even Jacoba opening her 23andMe account—the DNA-testing site that had cracked open this paternity fraud case—every morning and realising her daughter’s friend’s mother could be her half-sister.

‘Our Father’ wants to do everything, talk to everyone, all at once—thereby giving little screen space or time for the viewers to feel and understand the psychological damage their own biological father has caused in their lives. It also spends very little time exploring the grey areas in rape laws in Indiana, and America in general. The most informative sections of ‘Our Father’ are the bits when scholarly men, a prosecutor and the journalist who covered the case share their insights. Other times, it’s just cheap storytelling hacks that Jourdan, sadly, can be seen abusing in the film—dramatic BGS, laughable re-enactments, you name it.

It is worth remembering that this is a case of grave injustice in a land that boasts of freedom, liberty, and a judicial system that spares no criminal. And yet, Cline is as free as the mighty sky over our heads. Do these victims a favour, watch it for their stories to reach far and wide. Ignore the theatrics Lucie Jourdan tries to shove down your throat.

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