Talking to my Father – Film Review by Emily Elphinstone
Director: Sé Merry Doyle
Standing on a bicycle, peering over the wall into what used to be his family home, hidden away in the centre of Dublin, we meet Simon Walker; the narrator and guide of ‘Talking to My Father.’
Written by Walker himself, and directed by Sé Merry Doyle; ‘Talking to My Father’ traces the life and work of his father, Architect Robin Walker. Robin Walker worked under icons of modern architecture Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; before revolutionising Ireland’s Architecture in the 1960s as part of firm Scott Tallon Walker.
The film is both an exploration of architectural design, and a heartfelt communion between a son, and the father he lost nearly 25 years ago. Simon Walker followed in his father’s footsteps to become an architect himself, and through the film we see him visit the buildings that formed such a large part of his childhood; including the old Bord Failte building on Baggot Street, the restaurant building at UCD Belfield, and the family’s holiday home Bóthar Buí on the Beara Peninsula. He approaches each location as part architectural fan, part member of the family; admiring the craftsmanship, and suggesting that these were, and are, the places he had the closest bond with his father.
Walker shares the experience partially with his students, and those who use the buildings now; comparing their current state with detailed photographs of the original creations. Not only does he explain and admire the ideology behind each design, he also laments the changes that have been made over the years, and makes a call for these buildings to be saved and preserved. There may be some debate about the place for some of these now largely unfashionable buildings in modern Dublin, but it is clear where Walker stands.
‘Talking to My Father’ is a thoughtful exploration of the man, the buildings he created, and how those buildings relate to the world around them. However, this does not mean that a knowledge of Architecture is necessary for the enjoyment of the film. Patrick Jordan’s stunning cinematography supports Walker’s eloquent script, creating a wonderfully engaging and accessible film. Apart from anything else, ‘Talking to My Father’ is a reminder to look up.
Award-winning Irish filmmaker Sé Merry Doyle will take part in a Q&A with Architectural Historian Dr. Ellen Rowley following the exclusive opening night screening of his latest documentary, Talking to My Father, on October 16th at 18.30.