Review: ‘Sr.’ pairs the Robert Downeys in tender tribute to avant-garde filmmaker
The following review appeared in The New York Times on August 18, 2013.
The New York Times
For more than 150 years, New Yorkers have been riveted by New York’s movies, from the likes of Mel Gibson, Tom Stoppard, Mel Brooks and Robert De Niro to Richard Gere, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. In fact, there are now more movies and actors in Manhattan than residents.
This summer’s lineup of films and actors may not rival that of the past century, but it is strong enough to sustain the state of the art. And at a time when films like “Finding Neverland” and “Sideways” are vying for an Oscar win (a fate that befell the past two New Yorker Classics nominees), “Sr.” can be seen as a worthy successor.
The film’s writer, director and co-star, Robert De Niro, is as sharp as a scalpel when he directs an audience of filmgoers to recall the work of an artist of great renown for whom the New York of his youth was a kind of spiritual home, only on a grander scale.
The film, which begins by recalling the life of Andy Warhol — in the wake of that work, De Niro, as the elder De Niro, was forced to confront such a harsh reality of his own life: “Who am I?” he asked. He said he was a self-proclaimed “fucked up” kid from Queens. He said he was a bad kid from Queens. He said he was a person alienated from his own culture.
In interviews, De Niro’s character — who once was an aspiring filmmaker — has always reflected how he wanted to be seen by the world, but could never convince his peers. At a film festival, he came across the work of an up-and-coming director named Robert Downey Jr. who was living with his father in the Bronx. There, the elder Downey had recorded a portrait of his son in the same way an artist’s portrait once was considered a masterpiece.
In his own work, De Niro — his own voice as the elder De Niro — sought to tell the truth of his life, which