A Wang Bing film, despite this one’s short running time of 87 minutes, has never felt this long. At the same time the film seemed unfinished, not only because of its – for Wang – short running time, but mainly because what is there of the world to be seen is, in the end, so very little when compared to the rich tapestries of Tie Xi Qu - West of the Tracks and Til Madness Do Us Part.
In spite of the sense of closure achieved through a well-executed "24 hours in the life of..." montage, the feeling is that we are watching some rushes for a film-to-be. Nevertheless, there are several glimpses of how far richer and more profound Father and Sons could have been, had Wang and his collaborators been given the chance to keep on filming.
The ponderous simplicity of the premise returns the viewer to the travails of thought, through which you might momentarily enter the frame, and renders abjection into beauty. Wang never preaches or overtly politicizes his subjects or their existential situation, yet his empathy is unwavering; it magically becomes our own. The family’s two anesthetizing screens, likely their most valuable possessions, are also their most valued.