The Dads 2023 Movie Review
Written and directed by Luchina Fisher, centres on six dads as they gather for a fishing trip. We learn the love for their trans and LGBTQ children, their fears for their kids’ safety, and the urgency to fight for the ground on which they all stand. Starring: Peter Betz, Stephen Chukumba, Frank Gonzales, Wayne Maines, Dennis Shepard and Jose Trujillo.
The best thing that a parent can do when they learn that their child is Trans, is to listen and to learn how they can foster a safe environment for them. One of the greatest ways to achieve that is by connecting with other parents of Trans children, to use their experiences to try and take the best steps with their own children. That’s what The Dads explores, how this group of caring, compassionate and thoughtful fathers sought out each other’s help to nurture their children. It’s also where this documentary succeeds the strongest, capturing the candid, emotional conversation between them.
A big part of those conversations is awareness, it’s the more sombre portion to the film as it taps into the vigilance which parents of Trans people need to have. By living openly as Trans, it unfortunately leaves them vulnerable to a number of risks to their physical and mental health. Luchina Fisher highlights that need to see the bigger picture, to consider how society can be cruel and dangerous, to keep their children safe.
For the small amount of time that it has, it encompasses a lot of the worries and trials that parents can face. It’s also refreshing to see it from the perspective of fathers, who aren’t typically framed by the media as sensitive or empathetic towards children, when they’re coming out. The Dads acknowledges that it is an adjustment and does require them to put in the work, especially when they’re single parents.
It also dips into the idea of societal pressures, how friends and family can push you to reject your child’s wishes. Discussing the concept of how to many their child being Trans can be presented to them as if their parenting has gone wrong, and they have something to fix. Thankfully each of these fathers understand that making those types of choices is only going to cause damage to both their relationship and their child’s mental health.
Stylistically however is where it slightly lets itself down, when it spends time simply letting their conversation unfold in a candid, loose manner, it works really well. When it switches things up and with the opening, it’s taking on a more melancholy, serious persona which feels as though it’s trying too hard. It’s pushing to enhance the darker, deeper emotions that are at work here but they come out naturally in their conversation so it feels unnecessary. In those moments it feels overly self-aware, the highly intentional nature clashes with the casual observance to the rest of the film. Its poignant nature speaks for itself and doesn’t really need highlighting further.
The Dads is refreshing and honest, an exploration of what it means to be the father of a Trans child. Diving into all the obstacles that families face, both in the sense of the dangers that arise and how to adjust their perspective to create a healthy environment. It keenly acknowledges that no parent is perfect, they’ll make missteps along the way but will ultimately try to do best by their kid. It’s strongest when it just sits back and observes their connection and conversation, watching a bond develop over their shared experiences.