"In My Father's House" Review

“In My Father’s House” is one man’s journey to turning around his family’s legacy. The set up is much like that of an after school special. The difference is the level of sheer honesty that celebrity Che “Rhymefest” Smith gives to the viewer, making it a poignant, extremely relevant film for this generation.

You may not know the name Rhymefest, but you certainly have heard his work. Having co-wrote the Grammy winning “Jesus Walks” with Kanye West, and Oscar winning “Glory” with Common, his talent is undeniable. Smith’s story is a rags to wisdom story. No matter how successful Smith has become, the impact of life without his father has left an imprint. After purchasing his childhood home, Smith sets out to reunite with his father, Brian Tillman, who abandoned him 25 years earlier.

After finding his father, now homeless and an alcoholic, the film covers a one year journey of Smith trying to assist his father’s rehabilitation. While the normal grievances, questions, and judgement that one may have for the person who abandoned them during Smith and Tillman's reunion comes to light, this is when the film turns. Smith informs viewers about a child that may or may not be his, the struggle for him and his wife to conceive and reach full term, and even losing wealth due to lack of knowledge.

It’s in the depth of vulnerability that Smith is willing to share his life, and how co-directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg piece together Smith’s story that the documentary shines. It exposes the unsure footing we all experience in life in trying to make the right decision. No one is quite sure of their next steps in the film. Whether Smith is putting together a rap or putting together his family, or Tillman is fighting to stay clean, there is a message of human frailty that is beautiful. 

We make decisions every day in our lives. Some decisions are small, and others can have consequences that touch multiple generations.  “In My Father’s House” documents the decision for Che Smith to take back what was missing in his life, and take control of his next generation's story by becoming the father that he needed for his children and forgiving the one he wish he had when he was younger.

Rating: B+


Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.