Comeback Dad is a new dramatic film starring Tatyana Ali, Charles S. Dutton, Loretta Devine and Brad James. The Russ Parr-directed movie tells the story of Nima Babineuax (Ali), a successful pianist who has to come to grips with her alcoholic father having abandoned her family when she was a child. When Othell (Dutton) returns to her life, she has to decide if she’s willing to let go of the past and forgive the man who wounded her. While much has been written and said about how absentee dads affect their sons, both Ali and Dutton shared with rolling out that this project reveals how important fathers are to daughters and their development, as well.
“I immediately saw in Nima women in my life that I love and have grown up with — childhood friends,” shares Ali. “That relationship is so essential to who they are spiritually and emotionally; who they are in the world, how they choose their careers, how they choose the loves of their life. You don’t get to see that story very often. There were times when I felt so much for her. How do you get to a place where you can forgive? Because the wounds are so deep.”
“Like most black males, I was just indoctrinated that the missing father affects the son,” Dutton explains. “I always thought the girls were okay because the mom was there; the girls will be reared and nurtured by mom and it’s the boy who suffers because he doesn’t have that male presence. This was good for me to get into because [I realized] the female seed is just as longing and needs as much of a father image around as the boy.”
As Nima and Othell work to repair their fractured relationship, both have to learn to forgive themselves and each other. Ali says that their respective journeys are reflective.
“In the story, Othell has his steps to recovery and redemption and at the same time, the mirror is Nima’s steps of how does she forgive,” she says. “Layer by layer — how does she get to a place where she can open up her heart again and not be afraid. It’s the same for sons and daughters, your father and mother — that’s your god and goddess. It’s your first conception of that. It’s of that magnitude.”