Ba… ni hao ma [How Are You, Dad?] (2009)

Ba… ni hao ma
Director: Tso-chi Chang
Writer: Tso-chi Chang
Cast: Wing Fan, Meng-jie Gao, Michio Hayashida
Part of: Taiwan Film Hommage

Ba… ni hao ma consists of 10 different short films that are all about fathers and their various roles. From the poor man who has to take his sick kid to the doctor to the movie producer who blames himself for an accident that left his daughter brain-damaged; from the eternally drunk, overwhelmed, useless but trying very hard single father to a famous movie actor who tries to rekindle memories that his son has lost; we get a look at different concepts of fatherhood.

I did not like all the short films equally and in the middle there’s a part of this film that drags a little bit, but all in all the film works in a very nice tear-jerkery way.

For me, the strongest story was already the first one about the poor father who has to takes his son to the doctor and the father and son connect over the father’s old wristwatch. That was very nicely done. I also liked the last story (the one with the actor who takes his brain-damaged son to the zoo to try and spark his memories) and the story about the producer who celebrates his birthday with his brain-damaged daughter, though I did find it weird that there were two stories about brain-damaged kids who hurt themselves doing something dangerous and their dads weren’t there.

There’s also one where a couple of kids almost drown but their father saves them, so apparently Chang really wants us to know that life without fathers is very dangerous.

Unfortunately, round the middle, some of the stories drag a little and I didn’t connect as much with them. Like the story about the drunkard father – I just don’t have that much empathy for that guy. Yes, he’s in a difficult spot, but that’s no reason to get so drunk you have to puke and then cry to your kid about how bad your life is.

But most of the stories work nicely and I also liked the soundtrack – it was nice. And when the credits roll and random people send out messages to their fathers, I dare you to keep a dry eye. I didn’t.

Summarising: If you want a good cry, you could do worse.

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