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Like Father review - a deceptively heart-warming learning curve

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Verdict: an emotional gut-punch for any workaholic.

Jilted at the altar for allowing her work to take over her life, career-driven Rachel (Kristen Bell) takes a much-needed break in the form of a cruise ship honeymoon. However, accompanying her on this trip is not the husband she had hoped for, but rather her (until presently) absent father, Harry (Kelsey Grammer).

Despite some predictability in its clichéd ‘journey-of-self-discovery’ storyline, Like Father manages to convey a message needed to be heard by inhabitants of modern society’s dog-eat-dog work environment: happiness and compassion is far more valuable than success.

Rachel’s unfortunately comedic story is so relatable that it allows for a commentary of today’s technologically-obsessed society to run through the film without becoming too agenda-heavy. Rather than being a film that criticises the career orientated, Like Father is a learning curve.

It shows two characters, both alike in priorities, learn to let life take control and go wherever the wind – or cruise ship – takes them. And this film sees them visit some beautiful, natural locations, a stark contrast to the industrial New York Rachel is used to. Only upon surrounding themselves with life do they recognise their sense of unfulfillment and loneliness.

Being a prominent theme in this film, loneliness holds significant power over the characters and their journeys. Ironically, Like Father proves that loneliness doesn’t always have to mean isolation. In the right circumstances, it can bring people together and be the start of a new journey rather than simply the death of an old one.

Like Father’s biggest strength is its central characters. Rachel and Harry are flawed, and this is not shied away from. Whilst Rachel is clearly a highly skilled worker in her field and Harry is funny and carefree, they both have undesirable personality traits which, in fact, stem from their strengths. This, combined with two admirable performances from Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer, constructs a believable and authentically human relationship – one that is only able to be rebuilt due to the failure of another.

Likewise, the film showcases a great network of supporting characters who each serve their own purpose; whether that be to uncover deeper truths about the central characters or to add comedy in the form of contrast.

These characters’ personalities can also be seen embedded into the fabric of the film as a whole. Best described as humour with an air of melancholy, Like Father’s tone is reflective of how both father and daughter partake on a journey in which the starting point is handling their pain through forcing a smile and carrying on. However, as the story progresses, the humour on the surface starts to crack, revealing raw and built-up emotion behind strong appearances.

This does, however, take time to get to. The film, whilst not lacking in emotion, does save the majority of it for the last act, building up to a deceptively heart-warming song-and-dance in a not-so-quickstep manner. Like Father progresses at a measured pace which does take some perseverance to become accustomed to.

Capturing today’s work-over-everything attitude, Like Father gets off to a slow start but gradually becomes the encouragement no doubt needed by many workaholics to appreciate the here and now.

Like Father is available to stream on Netflix now.

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