Facing fatherhood for the second time, an immature man tries to make amends for past failures in "Women and Children," a so-so debut feature with a sociological bent from Mike Leigh disciple Daniel Mitelpunkt.

Facing fatherhood for the second time, an immature man tries to make amends for past failures in “Women and Children,” a so-so debut feature with a sociological bent from Mike Leigh disciple Daniel Mitelpunkt. Shaped through improvisation, discussion and rehearsal, the characters come across as three-dimensional, but the protagonist is so flawed that it’s difficult to sympathize with his plight as he lies his way deeper into a hole. Domestic broadcast, ancillary and indie showcases are best bets for further viewing.

When thirtysomething Midlands restaurant worker Joe (Mark Doyle) learns that his girlfriend (Kirsty Bushell) is expecting, he admits, to her shock, that he already has a son. After she kicks him out, he decides to visit 16-year-old Jeremy (Rupert Simonian), whom he hasn’t seen in years. This comes as an unwelcome surprise to the lad and Joe’s ex, family and friends, who all believe he’s been living in Spain. TV thesp Rosie Thompson makes a strong impression as the wife of Joe’s onetime pal (Matthew Cullum). Israel-born, U.K.-based multihyphenate Mitelpunkt displays an eye for composition, but his story wants for poignancy.

Women and Children

U.K.

Production

A Day for Night Films production. Produced, directed, written by Daniel Mitelpunkt.

Crew

Camera (color, HD, widescreen), Nicolas Desaintquentin; editor, Haim Asaf Litani; music, Mitelpunkt; production designer/costume designer, Anna Oldham-Cooper. Reviewed at Chicago Film Festival (New Directors, competing), Oct. 12, 2012. Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Mark Doyle, Rosie Thomson, Matthew Cullum, Kirsty Bushell, Rupert Simonian, Louise Bush, James Hayes, Alan Williams, Philip Arditti.

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