Are we doomed to repeat the sins of the father? Can vengeance be forgotten and transgressions forgiven? Paenitentia is a short theatrical melodrama telling the story of a son who returns home after a long exile to confront his estranged father. The son’s lust for revenge may only serve to drive them further apart, while the father seeks to groom his future successor. They resign to a wager; the father’s throne for a game of pool through which the son must learn control and wisdom if he is to win. The son’s haste to defeat his father proves his undoing as he fails to win the game, and resorts instead to brutality and fury. The father ultimately leaves him two choices; to carry on his self-destructive path, or let go of his hatred and take his place as the successor. The son instead chooses a third, letting go of his vengeance but refusing to become his father, and learning instead to carve his own path as a man free from his cursed genealogy.
This short 15 minute film walks a line between the theatrical and the surreal; the father, an elderly reverent man, makes his home in an old church with a congregation of followers that love him unconditionally. While the son recalls his exile in a hellish, otherworldly plain of existence. The dialogue is stylistically archaic, mimetic of the works of John Milton and Dante Alighieri which gives the film a poetic tone throughout. The events of this story and the history of the characters therein suggests a more profound biblical undertone, in fact beneath the flesh these two characters actually represent the mythos of God and Lucifer. A continuation of Dante and Milton’s tales into the modern day which seeks to uncover where this father and son relationship would lead after lifetimes of estrangement.
The story spans over two central locations; the father’s house and the pub in which the pool game takes place. However the surreality of the art direction comes through the distinct ambiguity of any spatial or temporal setting; instead this film takes place within a conceptual space that exists purely outside of reality. A fictional macrocosm revolving solely around the actions of the two characters.
Paenitentia is ultimately a solemn and poetic piece about a son that struggles to break free of his father’s influence over him. Through his raw passion, unbridled rage and concealed fears we see not a devil; but a product of his upbringing. A child that yearns to leave behind the iniquities of his father and live his own life.