Review: The Film Club

David Gilmour (2008)

Author David Gilmour made a decision concerning his son’s education that would probably strike fear into the hearts of most parents. Recognizing that his son Jesse was floundering and at a cross-roads, Gilmour gave his teenager the option to drop out of school on two conditions: that he stay away from drugs and that he watch three movies a week, dad’s choice. What followed was a three-year bonding experience that was as educational for father as it was for son.

I liked the premise of this memoir much more than I enjoyed the finished product. By the end, I was sick of spending time with these guys, relieved to shut the book and be done with them both. There was too little talk about movies and too much moping about girls. Gilmour might spend a few paragraphs setting up the film they’re about to watch and would conclude the lesson with what seems in the retelling like a two-minute post-screening conversation. Not a whole lot of insight there.

I’m tempted to say the charm of this father-son memoir was lost on me (because I’m neither a father nor a son) but that shouldn’t be the case in a well-crafted and engaging book. While I had little patience for the teenager mooning over his manipulative girlfriends, I really wanted to shout into the book at some of the stuff said and done by dad. (Giving your a sleeping pill to take the edge off his cocaine hangover, to name just one instance.)

I took a spin through some of the comments left on Amazon, wondering what I was missing about this book. (One of my favorite authors, Richard Russo, had a glowing blurb on the dust jacket.) Many people took issue with Gilmour letting his son drop out in the first place, criticizing his parenting as if that was the subject of the book. Not me. I just didn’t enjoy hanging out on the couch talking film with these guys like I thought I would.

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