Like Father Like Son (2005)

“Do you ever feel like you don’t fit?”

In spite of the fact that the drama Like Father Like Son is flawed, this British made-for-television film is so well done, the result is gripping. When the film begins, life for Dee Stanton (Jemma Redgrave) looks good. Her legal career is just about to take off, and she has a good relationship with widower Dominic Milne (Robson Green) who also happens to be her son Jamie’s (Somerset Prew) teacher. But there are some nasty problems just underneath the surface. Jamie sees Dominic as an intruder in his relationship with his mother, and then he discovers that the story he’s been told that his father is dead, is a complete lie. In reality, his father is infamous serial killer Paul Barker (Philip Davis) who’s in prison for murdering 4 young girls.

Jamie discovers the truth about his father at a crucial point in his life. Attracted to young, blonde, popular Morag Tait (Georgia Moffet) at school, he’s begun following her around. Known at school as “weirdo”, he’s the object of her derision. Rejected by Morag, picked on by school bullies, and discovering that the story that his father is a dead Gulf War hero is a myth, Jamie turns to his deranged incarcerated father. It doesn’t help that the boy is at his weakest point emotionally–or that they share some common interests. And when Morag turns up dead, Jamie is the prime suspect.

As the plot thickens, morality becomes clouded by emotion and divided loyalties. Dee’s plight is particularly difficult. On one hand, she loves her son, but when the police investigation points to Jamie, she’s also haunted by the thought that he is, perhaps, a “chip off the old block.” The scenes when she visits Jamie’s father are excruciatingly painful as she is forced to relive the humiliations and the scattered blame from her past. Can anyone ever truly forget such experiences? The film has its weak points–the scenes in the classroom when Morag confronts Dominic and argues about Desdemona’s death (Othello) are a bit far-fetched, and the solution to the crime is a bit unrealistic. But that said, the film, directed by Nicholas Laughland, is above average entertainment thanks mainly to the great performances from a solid cast.

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