Dad, I’m Sorry review: A family's generational conflict

Lim Yian Lu
·3 min read
Tran Thanh as Ba Sang in Dad, I’m Sorry. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)
Tran Thanh as Ba Sang in Dad, I’m Sorry. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)

Length: 128 minutes
Director: Tran Thanh, Vu Ngoc Dang
Cast: Tran Thanh, Tuan Tran, Ngoc Giau, Le Giang, Hoang Meo, Lan Phuong, La Thanh, Quoc Khanh, Ngan Chi
Language: Vietnamese with English and Chinese subtitles
Release info: In theatres 22 April (Singapore)

2.5 out of 5 stars

Directed by and starring Tran Thanh as Ba Sang, Dad, I’m Sorry spins a story about Ba Sang’s chaotic family. Ba Sang is a guy who is way too nice to others, and would rather sacrifice himself for his family. His siblings, on the other hand, are nowhere near his level of kindness: his older sister Giau (Ngoc Giau) is mean to him and urges him to sell his house to her and live in a smaller house instead; his brother Phu (Hoang Meo) is a man of few words and barely has a say in family matters; his youngest brother Quy (La Thanh) is not only a troublemaker, but even relies on Ba Sang to clear his gambling debts.

Ba Sang’s son Quan (Tuan Tran) is unhappy with how the “family” that Ba Sang regards so highly treats him. Quan, who is a rising YouTuber, hopes to give his father a better life. But the family-oriented and traditional Ba Sang cannot adapt to a totally foreign lifestyle. As a result, the two often get into conflict arguing over who is right and what should or should not be done. Sandwiched between them is Ba Sang’s adopted daughter Bu Tot (Ngan Chi). As they go through multiple crises, their relationship becomes more strained.

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Dad, I’m Sorry has a good concept that pits the typical Asian parents’ overly protective and self-sacrificing mindset against the younger generation’s idealism about living freely. Ba Sang always does things for the benefit of others at the expense of himself, to which Quan retorts that he should “live your own life” and do something for himself instead.

However, the storytelling did not live up to the expectations of the concept. The events, some highly predictable, do not help to further the plot, such as the revelation of the identity of Bu Tot. Rather than keeping the story straightforward by focusing on the father-son conflict, the plot meanders into unnecessary details about Ba Sang’s hypocritical family that make the story difficult to follow. Even the ending feels strange and would have had a better impact without the plot twist.

There is also no apparent conclusion, or at least not a strong one, to the two opposing mindsets held by the two generations. Instead, the movie tries to advocate the tagline “Choose to love when you are still able to,” which seems abrupt and forced. It may have been more convincing if the movie expands on how the two reach a compromise through improved communication, for love is at the root of all their actions.

All in all, it is regrettable to see that Dad, I’m Sorry is unable to tap on the potential of its concept due to poor storytelling.

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