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My Heart Belongs to Daddy

My Heart Belongs to Daddy (Røverdatter) is another Norwegian-Swedish film that will surely conquer the world. Sofia Haugan’s feature documentary debut depicts the relationship between the director and her dad, Kjell, who is an addict and has ADHD. It is definitely a must-see and a great piece to talk about in schools.

My Heart Belongs to Daddy is a personal story, but reflects upon issues many people need to deal with, namely how to grow up with and be a child of a parent who is an addict and/or has ADHD. It can easily be understood as director Sofia Haugan’s diary written to be able to cope with the situation she’s in and as a way of getting close to her dad again – to build a relationship with him and replace the old memories with new ones. Considering its subjects, sometimes it is really difficult and uncomfortable to watch the film, but Sofia does not really let the audience look away. For example, she shows the chaos in her dad’s flat as well as how heroin is injected into the vein of her dad’s girlfriend – in its entirety. She approaches the documentary with honesty and open-mindedness and she doesn’t hide anything, even fights between them are revealed. For example, Kjell always blames others for his own actions, and argues he didn’t receive enough help when he was diagnosed with ADHD. Basically, he is a victim of external factors. However, her daughter confronts him and questions his views several times.

The film belongs to the group of participatory documentaries, which are made by the involvement of the director and are usually told from her or his point of views. However, in the case of Sofia’s piece, her dad also plays an essential role in the process of making the film; he filmed himself while not being with his daughter. So it’s their points of view that are competing for the audience’s attention. The outcome is a journey – both physically and mentally. With all her power, Sofia is trying to take her dad (and his girlfriend and her dog) to a rehabilitation centre, which can’t be anything but a struggle, a series of struggle to be more specific, as she first brought him home from prison. The mental journey takes place in various paths, namely in Sofia’s head and her dad’s, and these routes meet at some point and from there they continue the journey together.

Despite dealing with such heavy subjects as addiction and ADHD, Haugan’s My Heart Belongs to Daddy is not a dreadful film, mainly because of Kjell’s personality and the situations he finds himself. His mood changes frequently due to the substances he is taking: when he is sober he loses his pep, but when he is high or drunk he is the happiest person on Earth. Those happy moments add a glimpse of light to the tone and a perfect balance is created. In addition, the film becomes more digestible without undermining its message and questioning the seriousness of the issues. The film clearly illustrates that dealing with addictions entails getting on an emotional roller coaster with the difference that no one can know what happens next. Is he still alive or has he died? Will he come home or not? Is he still my dad or has he become another person?

My Heart Belongs to Daddy starts another dialogue about important social problems such as addiction and ADHD that probably affect many families all over the world. Even if the quality of the images changing a lot as not a single cameraman shot the film, this can be easily overlooked by the engaging story, which is a reality of many. That qualifies it to be screened in schools where another discussion about drugs, addiction, ADHD etc. can and should begin.

This review is in the March issue of Cinema Scandinavia. 

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  • Directed by Sofia Haugan

 

Barbara is a journalist, editor and film critic. She usually does interviews with film-makers, artists, designers, and writes about cinema, design and books.