I thought I’d feature Rob Riutta’s Tough Guys Forget today since I only recently posted his interview. Rob’s film tackles depression, PTSD, and dementia, but most importantly, the changing relationship between father and son as they both age.
What do you do when the parent who abused you, who you never liked, suddenly becomes helpless and vulnerable and in need of care? What if he openly displays signs of PTSD and depression–does that make it easier to forgive him? When I was thinking of the title “Tough Guys Forget,” I interpreted it as describing the father in the film, who exemplifies the tough guy of the World War II generation, yet is suddenly becoming more fragile and forgetting things due to his dementia. Rob had a much more interesting explanation—he thinks of it as communicating that tough guys are sometimes able to forget some of their resentment and the trauma of their childhood to help a parent in need, because it takes strength and sacrifice to do so.
I would classify Rob’s movie as an “art film,” and he seemed to be agreeable to that label. It’s shot in a stark black and white where even an apartment with messy dishes looks kind of pretty. After we talked about that, I had a hard time picturing the dishes in color. There are some very artfully composed shots. Additionally, the narrative is not linear and the sounds do not always align with the pictures. This is even after Rob said he edited it because earlier audiences found it confusing, and I believe he said part of the hoped-for effect was for the audience to sometimes confuse the father with the son. He said he was inspired by some of the realism and spontaneity of John Cassavetes and the French New Wave, and I can see that.
Rob’s film plays in Shorts Block No. 2. Also check out the recently posted interview with him in the Interviews section.