Chris Smith (The Yes Men, The Pool, 100 Foot Wave) directs this intimate, poignant documentary about iconoclastic filmmaker Robert Downey Sr., who died in 2021, leaving behind a legacy of subversive filmmaking (Sweet Smell of Sex, Chafed Elbows, Putney Swope) as well as a fiercely talented son named Robert Downey Jr., who’s prominently featured in the documentary.

click to enlarge NEW FLICKS: Sr.
PHOTO COURTESY OF NETFLIX
FATHERS AND SONS: Robert Downey Sr. and Jr. appear in the Netflix documentary Sr., which chronicles Sr.’s career and celebrates Sr. and Jr.’s warm relationship until Sr.’s death in 2021.

Not only does the film cover Sr.’s long and strange career, it also displays the deep affection between father and son. In essence, the film gives Jr. a chance to interrogate Sr. in service to a documentary about his father’s artistry. In some ways, it’s constructed similarly to Sr.’s own often disjointed and unorthodox approach to filmmaking, so if you demand order and coherence, this may not be the doc for you. This filmmaking family has a trove of archival footage and film clips from which to construct its narrative, which in part is about Jr. processing his own grief over the death of his father.

    I found the film fascinating, emotionally resonant, and heartfelt. Both Sr. and Jr. are characters, and though Jr.’s career has arguably eclipsed Sr.’s in scope and importance, this film cements Sr.’s reputation as an important and unforgettable filmmaker. (89 min.)

—Glen Starkey

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