The title of this film is indicative of the entire film – subversive and expertly so! Tater tot and Patton is written and directed by Andrew Kightlinger, producer of Napoleon Dynamite. A tater tot is after all crispy and delicious fried potato balls, uniform in colour and General Patton commanded the US army during the second world war. Except here Uncle Erwin (a powerfully understated performance by Bates Wilder) who sees himself as Patton commands little respect and an empty farm and Tater Tot his niece, Andie (played by Jessica Rothe) , is anything but small, crispy and delicious on the inside although very attractive on the outside.
Tater Tot and Patton starts with Andie being sent to live with Uncle Erwin after a spell in rehab by her mother in the hopes one assumes that a spell in the midwest will make her appreciate her city life. Uncle Erwin doesn’t seem too thrilled to have her, tells her to watch out for his dog which he calls little bastard “watch out for him he’s a humper.” Where will this story go and will they survive each other?
Is it diverse?
Oh my, it is and so refreshing to see childlessness from a male point of view, grief and a very different look at masculinity. Usually, miscarriages are seen from the female point of view – no one has ever looked at it from the male viewpoint and the impact it has on men. A really interesting look at how men survive after bereavement – Ernie’s wife, Aunty Tilly died 87 days earlier
The story takes us on a journey that is so unexpected but utterly refreshing. When Andie asks why they didn’t have children – Ernie’s frankness is so unexpected. He tells her that they had 3 miscarriages. It’s the sensitivity in which this information is conveyed that’s so shocking and touching that the audience can imagine the impact it must have had on him. The camera work in this film is interesting and at times some of the shots feel a bit cheap – watching Ernie urinating add nothing to the film although it does provide the audience with an understanding of his everyday mundane life. The performances of the two leads The cinematography lifts this film to another level and makes it a joy to watch. Whilst the script could do a little work – the use of silence works well here and covers up some of the holes in the script and character development of the secondary characters who come off as cliched.
Tater Tot and Patton is a must watch especially for its refreshingly different interesting male gaze of view of loneliness, grief and bereavement.
Tater Tot and Patton was available from 14 May on digital download.