rating: 3 of 5 stars
I may need to apologize to author David Gilmour for approaching this book as a hopeful manual on How To Educate Your Children By Watching Movies. Gilmour's memoir about his three year experiment of letting his son drop out of high school in exchange for watching three assigned films a week, is indeed a memoir, not a manifesto, but boy, I really wanted it to be a manifesto. Then I could hand this book to people and say "See? Watching 50 movies a month IS an education!" Nevertheless, it was interesting to read about other people's film obsessions (everyone's are different) and to read a true story of people taking risks on behalf of one another.
What I liked about Film Club, was both the boldness of a father noticing his son's growing frustration and rebellion at institutional education, and his ability to consider something out of the ordinary in hopes that it might give his son some space to figure things out for himself. Also, that the father provided discipline (3 movies a week, no drug use) but also invited his son, Jesse, into his (Gilmour's) most personal passions- both the actual movies, his own floundering career as a movie critic, and his stories of love and heartache. As dysfunctional as this father/son duo is, the leap off the beaten path opened up whole new vistas of trust, vulnerability and love between them.
What I wasn't as crazy about was simply that these guys are a mess. It's always hard to read memoirs about chaotic times and conflicted people, but at the same time, I have to take my hat off to Gilmour's gutsy move, both in the Film Experiment with Jesse, and in the candid, self-deprecating but also honoring way he wrote about it all.
Film Club may not be the clarion call to life transformation through movie watching I hoped it would be, but there's still a lot of transformation (and movie watching) worth reading about here.
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