Canada, 2010; Carl Bessai
One of Canada's best-known directors, Bessai charmed audiences in 2008 with a loosey-goosey movie called Mothers and Daughters, which chronicled relations between various mommies dearest and their girls. Now Fathers and Sons follows, with Sisters and Brothers soon to be released. Casually interweaving a quartet of narrative snapshots, Bessai digs into the ways dads can cruelly or comically frustrate and disappoint their offspring. Reuniting after their father's demise, four wildly different lads—lawyer, loser, New Ager, showbiz celeb—act out prickly fraternal dynamics, encouraged all their lives by a scheming paterfamilias whose snarky last will and testament provokes more of the same. A successful black businessman comes home after losing his job to the economic downturn and feels doubly betrayed, by his father's lifelong lack of ambition and the old man's donation of money his son gave him to a community sports center. A young Indo-Canadian, trying for buttoned-down dignity at his engagement party, blows a fuse over his gay dad's Bollywood flamboyance. And finally, in a farcical tale that breeds belly laughs, a sad sack Jewish teacher meets his larger-than-life progenitor for the first time over his mother's grave. Full of earthy appetite, the hulking, red-bearded fellow brings the boy up in fast-motion, playing Yiddish Zorba to repressed schlub. Fathers and Sons doesn't go much more than skin deep into character and emotion; and love's the solution to every familial contretemps. But one could do a lot worse—say, watching Letters from the Big Man—than spending some time with Bessai's Fathers and Sons. Enjoy the movie's uniquely Canuck and mostly very gentle humor, and the easygoing, sometimes improvised ensemble work from actors much admired north of the border (Benjamin Ratner, Jay Brazeau, Manoj Sood, Babz Chula, Blu Mankuma, Tyler Labine, et al.)  —KAM

Thursday, May 26, 9:30 p.m. at Harvard Exit; Saturday, May 28, 1 p.m. at the Admiral