Starring: Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Downey Sr.
Director: Chris Smith
Chris Smith’s Sr. is a wonderful, heartfelt tribute to one of cinema’s most beloved icons and a fitting, bittersweet farewell to the great Robert Downey. Shot in crisp black-and-white and running at just 89 minutes, the film moves at such a clip that it barely registers movement at all before the credits roll. As the audience is treated to both Downey Jr. and Sr.’s process of making this film, we also get to hang out with two of the most insightful and irreverently funny storytellers on the planet, and get a small glimpse into the fatherhood legacies of both men.
Sr. sets out to do a lot of things. On one hand, it celebrates the work of Robert Downey Sr., works that I was relatively unfamiliar with. On the other hand, it acts as a vehicle for Robert Downey Jr. to come to terms with the end of his father's life. It's not always an easy watch, and it illuminates some of the reasons Jr. had the challenges he did early in his life; however, more than anything, it allows him to find a sense of closure as he says goodbye. Shot in beautiful black-and-white, this film is a touching memorial, to be sure.
Much like what Robert Downey Jr. says towards the end of the film, I don’t quite understand what the point of Sr. was. It was clearly a final project between father and son so that they could bond over their love of cinema, but more so, it feels very personal. The Downeys are letting us into a memory that they’ve created for themselves, and for that reason, I’m sure it was deeply fulfilling for them; however, as a viewer, I felt far too detached from the subjects.
This film was reviewed by Jacob as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of the 2022 New York Film Festival.