Colombia was a difficult time in the 1960’s because of a fierce conflict between the far right and the far left that waged for years. Héctor Abad Gómez (Javier Cámara) was a university professor at the time and during this sensitive era in Colombia’s history, even the slightest difference in opinion made you a target.
Gómez believed in healthcare for his people and founded the Colombian National School of Public Health. Which because of its promotion of equal human rights, caused many attacks from the far right on Gomez and his family, leading to his assassination in 1986.
Memories of My Father is a biopic of Hector Abad Gómez, taken from the novel written by his son, Héctor Abad Faciolince about his memories of growing up with his father. A biopic from the perspective of a child growing into a man, the film goes back and forth as the last days of his father’s life are played out in black and white while his childhood is shot in colour.
This gives Faciolince’s childhood a rose-tinted quality as he can’t remember the events of the time as well as he can his father. There are moments where the more serious repercussions of his father’s views and actions are seen, but as they often are with a child, they’re brushed over. Feeling like something half remembered without knowing the full impact that it had.
This means that it brings the audience along with Facionlince’s childhood, feeling like a warm and loving time in his life. Cámara mirrors this memory of his father by playing Gomez with all the warmth and kindness that he imagined.
A charming performance of a good man met through the eyes of a child, even when eventual resentment set in as his son got older.
That’s what makes Memories of My Father all the more shocking though, because unless you’re aware of what he meant to his people or have read the book, you may not fully realise his impact until Héctor Jr. does himself. Played as an episodic collection of memories throughout his childhood, the big screen adaptation of Facionlince’s book won’t fully hit you until you least expect it.
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