Directed by: Chris Smith
Distributed by: Netflix
Written by Alexander Reams
The career of Robert Downey Jr. is one of Hollywood’s favorites, the son of a reputable director who started working in the same business, then had a fall from grace, and then redeemed himself and became one of the biggest stars on the planet. It’s a great story, now RDJ is telling it. Focusing on his father in his last years and months, RDJ and director Chris Smith simultaneously recount the pair’s moments together as father and son and give us a new film from Robert Downey Sr. The balancing act of these two distinct projects operating in the same film is no easy feat and Smith demonstrates his skill as a filmmaker throughout the runtime through that balancing.
The tongue-in-cheek relationship between Jr. and Sr. is the main focus of Smith’s documentary, whereas Sr. goes for a more abstract approach to his first film in over 15 years. Jr. and Sr.’s relationship is on display, warts and all, a breath of fresh air compared to other film industry-centric documentaries this year. The idiosyncrasies of Jr. are also on full display, all the mannerisms we’ve come to associate with are a part of his daily life, allowing a different look into the man who started the biggest film franchise ever. Sr.’s wife also makes frequent appearances, Rosemary Rogers, and the rapport between Sr., Jr., and Rogers is comedy gold and was a highlight of the film, particularly the bit about how long Rogers and Sr. have been married, their answers vary by a few hundred years but its the underlying love they have for one another that makes the joke land. Sr. constantly pushed boundaries in his films and made his mark with “Putney Swope,” a scathing satire on the Madison Ave. advertising world. Smith’s documentation of a father and son’s relationship mixed with a new vision from one of American independent cinema’s most important filmmakers makes for one of the best documentaries 2022 has had to offer.