In his role as a television film critic, David Gilmour always struck me as a cranky opinionated guy who thought the world revolved around him. Not surprisingly, I wasn’t drawn to his memoir about a three-year period he hung out with his high-school dropout son watching films that Gilmour chose.
One evening, at one of Vancouver’s best Indian buffet diners, I unwrapped a birthday present revealing the cover of The Film Club. At first glance, I was relieved the book wasn’t a self-help title, the type one or two friends are compelled to give. I thought, yeah, I’ll read this sometime.
For several months, my copy of The Film Club sat on a shelf in my living room with its cover facing up. One night, tired of watching re-runs of Law & Order re-runs I picked up the book to accompany me into the tub. As I settled in the warm water with the book, I quickly concluded that the role of writer was a better fit for Gilmour than film critic. Maybe that’s what was wrong with him—a writer locked inside the body of an art critic.
The book’s bio indicated that not only had Gilmour written a few novels, but one novel had won a Governor’s Award. And his TV show, Gilmour on the Arts, won some kind of award. Too bad, I thought, I had tuned him out for the crime of being opinionated, when ironically, that’s what he was being paid to do.
While reading The Film Club, I started to skim the references to movies as I found the delivery of so many—some known to me and some unknown—difficult to absorb. As I continued reading, I skimmed more, thinking the book would be a handy reference later if I ever wanted to watch old films (and it’s nice that the book includes an index of the movies discussed).
Sometimes it felt as if Gilmour was dropping names a bit too much—particularly David Cronenberg’s—relying on those former film critic connections to up his credibility. And sometimes the telling of the son’s romantic and sexual explorations ran a little on the creepy side, reminding me of Gilmour, the former notorious womanizer.
Perhaps it was a little too intimate. Perhaps at times a bit too tender. The story portrayed a man running against time and wanting to help his son grow up, but also perhaps fearing the loss of an important role. Was fatherhood slipping away? Not likely. Gilmour’s unusual educational model—the films—was a brave approach, something some readers (bloggers and critics) found offensive. The Film Club turned out to be a good thing for both father and son.
My accidental reading of this Gilmour book put his name on my reading list.
• CBC’s Evan Solomon positions David Gilmour as provocateur. And Gilmour announces his has given up writing novels—because he has found happiness.
• Brian Fawcett’s review of The Film Club
• A blogger who really didn’t like The Film Club backed with good reasons
• A blogger who, unlike me, wanted more film stuff
• A review with photos of father and son and links to interview with David Gilmour