Penny Panayatopoulou's Hard Goodbyes: My Father is a risky film. Not because it's particularly inventive in its script or its camerawork, but because it treads on some wearyingly well-beaten ground. From The 400 Blows to the recent Valentín to Punky Brewster re-runs, we're pretty much stuffed full of examples, good and bad, of coming-of-age stories featuring young children making sense of Those Strange Adults. But Goodbyes works. Though it doesn't do much to break free of the coming-of-age genre's conventions, it skillfully avoids most of its pitfalls, and adds an appealingly metaphysical tone to its story.

Set in Athens, Greece in 1969, the young child in question here is 10-year-old Elias (Yorgos Karayannis), whose deep love for his father (Stelios Mainas) blinds him to the fact that his family is actually falling apart. Dad is a failed traveling salesman, and his constant driving away to hawk household appliances has fractured his relationship both with Elias' mother (Ioanna Tsirigouli) and his older brother Aris (Hristos Bouyotas). As much as Elias misses his father and regrets his frequent absences, he's also become used to the small trappings of his peripatetic lifestyle. There are the stories about moonshots that Dad tells him (the film's events are framed by the Apollo 11 landing), the car rides Dad takes him on, and the candy bars with bright blue wrappers that Dad leaves for him every time he returns home, which Elias keeps stashed in an old army ration chest.

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