“Footnote” describes the dynamics between fathers and sons, where the idealized version of a father who wants to see his son flourish is dismissed quickly. From the first scene, we see the bitterness and resentment that the father has for his successful son. On the one hand, why should this come as a surprise? As a species we tend to feel better when we perceive ourselves as “ahead” and we feel worse when we think we are “less than”. On the other hand, there is a notion that our children are extensions of us, and hence their accomplishment is a reflection on us, hence parents would be proud of the success in their children. Both are true and both are at play, in some measure, all of the time.
This movie depicts the former scenario in which father and son are rivalrous, perhaps for the love of the wife/mother, as Freud might say. What was charming about this flawed movie was that it felt so real. The accomplishments of the son led to bitterness in the father which led the son to feel bad about himself. No one was happy. As long as they needed to please each other, there would be no joy or fulfillment. Their connection prohibited them from seeing outside of themselves, and hence they were stuck in a very negative place. There was no happy ending.
I would like to think that therapy would have helped all of them. Actually, I feel pretty sure that psychotherapy for any of the pained family members would have helped them separate and see themselves as worthwhile human beings independent of the disappointment experienced by the other. Without psychotherapy, this family seemed stuck in a pattern in which negativity kept spreading wider and wider. It was a depressing movie, representing a depressing family. As expected, the third generation was also afflicted with this disease of disappointment. Like a malignancy, without intervention, it kept spreading. In an odd way, the movie endorsed my profession. For that, I recommend it.