First They Killed My Father Movie Review
Disturbing but oddly not disturbing enough, interesting but oddly not emotional, First They Killed My Father tells the true story of a young girl who survived under the rule of the Khmer Rouge. The fact that this foreign language film is directed by Angelina Jolie is only one of many head-scratching aspects to the production, though the mystery primarily revolves around why, despite its story and the harrowing, true life tale, First They Killed My Father doesn’t land harder.
The movie is undeniably better than Jolie’s overrated Unbroken, but where that one didn’t work because Jolie went overboard with the melodrama, First They Killed My Father doesn’t work because it feels like Jolie is telling a story—but not allowing her audience to experience it. Despite the horrors the Khmer Rouge inflicted on the Cambodian people, and the suffering Loung Ung (played admirably by Sareum Srey Moch), the movie is somehow, inexplicably, emotionally detached.
Still, First They Killed My Father marks a notable improvement and restraint by Jolie the director, and overall it’s a well done movie. If you’re unfamiliar with the Khmer Rouge and what happened in Cambodia, it’s worth checking out—but there are other, better movies out there that cover similar material (most notably, The Killing Fields).
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.