Written and Directed by Raphael Dirani, HELLO, MY SWEET BOY taps into the bittersweet journey of a son who has a parent suffereing with dementia. The film also taps into the son’s bisexuality and how hard it is for him to come out to his mother – after dating a man for seven years.
The film opens with Darrel (Brandon H. Morgan) entering into his parent’s home – the main purpose for his visit – to tell his mother (Rosemary Thomas) he is going to marry a man named Terrance.
There’s an unnaturalness between mother and son when he first enters the home. An awkward kiss between the two might suggest it’s been a long time since the two have seen each other – or a reflection of the acting.
The first time Darrel shares the news with his mother about marrying Terrance she is angered. It is the second time in which he tells her the same news that the actors drop into the scene and share with us a beautiful mother/son relationship – and a glimpse of who she was before this disease took over.
In a moment like this one, we see what the rest of the film could have been – if the writing was more layered and the plot more explored. Cinematography (Pavel Gazdyuk) was done well at times, especially with close-up shots. Some shots felt like standard filmmaking shots and lacked visual interest.
The whistling tea kettle is a subtle, yet poignant reminder of the mother’s mental decline – and the son’s pain in witnessing it. She repeatedly greets her son – only to forget he is there.
Darrel’s father (Joseph Miller) is clearly disabled as he sits on the couch. His facial and left side paralysis seems to be a result of a stroke. He feels so disconnected from the story — he almost feels like “filler” throughout most of the film. He’s not included in Darrel’s discussion with his mother – only through overhearing it. He does finally connect with his son.
HELLO, MY SWEET BOY repeats the title line throughout the film which causes the line to lose its power. It felt overused.
Dirani explores important topics in under eight minutes – but without the writing to support it – and with some of the acting feeling unnatural – the film never really hits home.