I read David Gilmour’s, “The Film Club,” this weekend on a little mini get away with Holly and couldn’t put it down. I am a sucker for memoir, especially father and son stories and Gilmour delivers. The hook is that Gilmour’s teenage son starts to do terribly in high school, so he lets the kid drop out, if he promises to watch 3 films a week that Gilmour picks.
You hear that and think, “What? Are you out of your mind!”
Gilmour is the first to admit that it may turn out poorly. He agonizes over whether he is fucking the kid up or saving him, which to me seems like a pretty accurate description of parenting, although most parents won’t ever have to go to the lengths Gilmour did with his child.
The book rises mostly on Gilmour’s willingness to discuss his own inadequacies and fears about the situation. The love he has for his kid is just palpable. You can easily relate to the position he finds himself in, especially if you have a strong willed child of your own. Interestingly he doesn’t try to do anything didactic with the movies he picks. He loosely organizes them into “units,” but these groups of film sometimes seem pretty arbitrary–“The Quiet Ones,” a collection of first time actors who steal the show–to pretty obvious collections (Horror, Guilty Pleasures, etc). He mostly provides mentoring and companionship for his son who goes through a period where he is board with school and trying to figure out his place in the world.
If the book has a flaw, it’s that you occasionally want to reach through the pages and swat the kid, just to see if the heavy hand of discipline might not work a little faster. Fortunately for Gilmour, he knows how to tell a story. And he has a seemingly endless supply of cool insider stories that he can trot out. He is a thoughtful writer who easily relates the movies he’s watching to what is happening in his life and his son’s. And it doesn’t hurt that he comes off like a real man’s man.
It just really works. If you get the chance, read it!