Moviegoing brings a father and son closer together in this dynamic memoir by Canadian novelist Gilmour (Sparrow Nights, 2001, etc.).
While teenaged Jesse was wilting under pressure at his rigorous high school, the author was feeling every bump on the road to middle age. Having lost a lucrative gig as a TV film critic, Gilmour was professionally adrift, meandering toward bankruptcy and, as a divorced dad, convinced that his inept parenting had brought Jesse to his current predicament. When the boy announced that he was dropping drop out of high school, the author surprised himself by going along with the idea—provided that Jesse agreed to watch at least three films of Gilmour’s choosing at home with him every week. The rationale, he explains, is that by having his son sit through films of every conceivable style and genre—’40s noir, European new wave, action pictures, old comedies—he would provide at least some of the education Jesse was missing in a formal classroom setting and perhaps even some preparation for the adult world ahead. This risky, quirky home schooling and bonding scheme superbly binds together Gilmour’s heartwarming memoir. With ironic wit and self-introspection, he beautifully analyzes the slow but transforming effect the films had on his son. At first Jesse assumed that leaving school would be tantamount to a permanent vacation. Instead, he transitioned from being a confused teen to a grown-up, all the while experiencing the agony and defeat of first romance, working as a dishwasher and finding his true calling as a musician. Gilmour writes an especially poignant scene in which he sneaks out late one night to visit the club where Jesse’s struggling band has a gig.
Perfectly balanced recollections, brimming with pathos leavened by sardonic humor.