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Entertainment‘Our Father’ Review: A Doctor’s God Complex Revealed

‘Our Father’ Review: A Doctor’s God Complex Revealed

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At the beginning of the gripping Netflix documentary “Our Father,” the camera creeps through a hallway toward a door with a doctor’s nameplate on it and into an examination room decorated with embroidered Bible verses, gynecological charts and baby photos. A foreboding score plays.

There are no jump scares in Lucie Jourdan’s debut feature, about the biological children of Dr. Donald Cline, an Indiana fertility specialist, who for nearly a decade inseminated patients with his own sperm without their knowledge. But make no mistake, “Our Father” is a horror movie. Cline’s deception upends the lives of his unsuspecting patients’ children, and the film is rife with harrowing insights about medical malfeasance and God complexes.

At the center of it is an unflinching protagonist. An only child, Jacoba Ballard was stunned when, after taking a DNA test, she received notifications of several half siblings from a genealogy website. Cline had assured hopeful parents that the clinic he operated never used a donor more than three times. We learn from the film that Ballard, who’s now in her 40s, is Sibling No. 0. The last sibling interviewed in “Our Father” is No. 61.

Jourdan makes potent — and, at times, speculative — use of re-enactments. In a scene reminiscent of cinema’s version of a detective hunting a suspect, Ballard sits at a desk, evidence papering the wall. Except she is wearing a bright red hoodie, as if to declare, “This is what it looks like to take down the Big Bad Wolf.”

There are interviews with Cline’s partner in the clinic and a nurse who assisted him, as well as a sit-down with a former Indiana prosecutor as the documentary tries to address the plaint, “How could this have happened?” “Our Father” also looks into Cline’s possible connection to QuiverFull, a conservative Christian movement that champions procreation. But it is the siblings — their anguish and their anger, as well as the compassion they extend to one another — that drive the narrative.

Our Father
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 37 minutes. Watch on Netflix.



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