God Bless the Child (2015)

God Bless the Child
Director: Robert MachoianRodrigo Ojeda-Beck
Writer: Robert Machoian
Cast: Harper GrahamElias GrahamArri GrahamEzra GrahamJonah Graham
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 2.11.2016

Harper (Harper Graham) is still a child herslef, but as the oldest sibling, she is the one in charge of her younger brothers Elias (Elias Graham), Arri (Arri Graham), Ezra (Ezra Graham) and Jonah (Jonah Graham). It’s the summer holidays, it’s hot, and the four of them have to pass the day without any adult supervision, as their mother disappeared, again.

God Bless the Child sounded better on paper than it was on screen. While I did feel with the siblings, the film simply could not keep my attention for its entire runtime.

God Bless the Child resides somewhere between documentary and fiction. The five kids – all extremely cute – actually are siblings. In fact, they are the children of the writer and director of the film who – according to the Festival program – tried to show his own father’s life. The Viennale program put this squarely in the documentary section. And while a lot of the film is showing the kids at play, I’d still have put it more in the fiction category. But either way you put it, it’s interesting to consider the lines between fact and fiction.

And as I said, the kids are really cute and the film captures their closeness as siblings nicely. I also sympathized a lot with Harper in particular and how she had to both take care of her siblings and her mother, despite the fact that she is much too young for either responsibility.

But unfortunately the film has some enormous lengths. Edited down to maybe half it’s runtime, I think it would have been a fantastic piece of cinema that talks eloquently about childhood and coming of age. But since things are unnecessarily dragged out all the time, it starts to grate and it just couldn’t keep my interest. Maybe if they’d been my own kids or kids I know in real life, I would feel differently about it, but since I don’t, I just grew bored a lot.

In fact, I grew bored so much that even the parts of the films I liked stopped working for me. And it didn’t actually deserve that.

Summarizing: Can’t recommend it although I would like to.

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