Movie review of “In My Father’s House”: Rapper Che “Rhymefest” Smith, a vocal advocate of African-American men remaining constant, supportive fathers in the lives of their children, finds his convictions put to the test. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
By Tom Keogh
Special to The Seattle Times
“In My Father’s House” begins with data about the linkage between fatherless children and their statistical likelihood of ending up addicts, school dropouts and even convicts.
In the big picture, these problems can become intergenerational legacies. This is important information to a key figure in this engrossing documentary: rapper/talk-radio host Che “Rhymefest” Smith, whose accomplishments include cowriting the Oscar-winning song “Glory” from “Selma.”
Che and his wife, Donnie, are activists helping kids in Chicago’s South Side. Che, using his radio platform, is also a vocal advocate for fellow African-American men taking responsibility for being supportive and reliable dads.
Movie Review ★★★
‘In My Father’s House,’ a documentary directed by Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg, from a screenplay by Stern, Sundberg and Pax Wassermann. 90 minutes. Rated R for language. Alderwood Mall 16.
What’s powerful and interesting about “In My Father’s House” is the way so much goodwill and urging are tested in Che’s personal life. Abandoned at 12 by his father Brian, Che — now in his mid-30s — discovers Brian is a homeless alcoholic living not far away.
This momentous find comes shortly after Che buys the house he grew up in, the one Brian left. Moving in with Donnie, who hopes to overcome previous problems carrying a baby to term, Che wants to expunge the place of his family history.
No such luck. After reconnecting with Brian and bringing the older man into his life and home, Che learns of his own parent’s torment as a child in that house, at the hands of an abusive father.
The majority of the fly-on-the-wall film, shot over 18 months, is a back-and-forth dynamic between Che and Brian, of love and hope, anger and disappointment, faith and resignation. It’s the human side of all those statistics, and as such is both three-dimensional and cautionary.
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org