I stumbled across David Gilmour's fascinating memoir about a week ago on the library shelves, and despite the enormous pile of books I have at home, I had to read this one. It's the story of an unusual arrangement between a father and son, a thought-provoking book.
At sixteen, David Gilmour's son, Jesse, was failing at school. He hadn't done well his freshman year in high school, but his sophomore year was a disaster. Jesse was leaving school, disappearing during the day, getting in trouble. And, one night, while helping his son with his homework, Gilmour realized how much his son hated school, and how useless he saw it. So, he made his son an unorthodox offer. Jesse could drop out of school, but there would be two rules. There would be no drugs. And, Jesse would have to watch three movies a week with his father, films of his father's choice. When Jesse pounced on the idea, his father told him he knew it was the only education his son would get.
Over the next three years, Gilmour and his son watched, and discussed films as wide-ranging as The Bicycle Thief to Clint Eastwood movies, such as Absolute Power and A Fistful of Dollars. They analyzed films such as Casablanca, and even The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. As an out-of-work film critic, Gilmour was the perfect person to lead his son through these movies. As they watched films, they also found themselves discussing girls, romance, Jesse's love of music. Gilmour, his wife, and his ex-wife, Jesse's mother, worked well together to offer Jesse a chance to discover himself.
As much as any of us may look on appalled at some of Gilmour's decisions and Jesse's actions, it's also easy to see the growth in both men, the growth in their relationship, and the love they share for each other. Gilmour was an unusual father, giving his son this much independence, but The Film Club shows the success of that experiment. The list of films Jesse and David viewed ends the book, and it's a welcome addition to the memoir. The Film Club is an interesting view of an unusual education in film, and in life.
The Film Club by David Gilmour. Grand Central Publishing, ©2008. ISBN 9780446199292 (hardcover), 256p.