Pervasively powerful ‘Last Visit’ explores father-son ties in a changing world

Helmed by director Abdulmohsen Aldhabaan, the film explores the relationship between a father and his son. (Supplied)
Updated 03 July 2019

Pervasively powerful ‘Last Visit’ explores father-son ties in a changing world

CHENNAI: Movie-critic-turned-filmmaker Abdulmohsen Aldhabaan’s first feature, “Last Visit,” is an endearingly honest take on a disturbed father-son relationship.

The movie, which premiered at the ongoing Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic, has echoes of the Palestinian work “Wajib – The Wedding Invitation,” which also involves a road-trip bonding of a father and son, although Aldhabaan stops short of offering a resolution.

Instead, he concentrates on the uneasy ties between Nasser (Osama Alqess), a late-40s presumable widower, and his 16-year-old son, Waleed (Abdullah Alfahad).

Hoping to mend their relationship, Nasser takes Waleed to a wedding, but on the way receives a call about his father’s critical health condition. Nasser turns his car around to be by his father’s bedside in a quiet village.

Shot at the remote Naájan, 107 km from Riyadh, the movie captures the turmoil and turbulence as Waleed, immersed in his world of music with earphones plugged on, is forced to confront an unfamiliar side of life he is quite disdainful about.

The plot is threadbare with just one dramatic curve involving a missing boy, but Aldhabaan, who co-wrote “Last Visit” with Fahad Alestaa, infuses his narrative with a kind of silence that is deafening and an economy of dialogue that is pervasively powerful.


European in style, almost Bergmanesque, he uses the father-son estrangement to study the divisiveness between the older and younger generation. Waleed, tech-savvy and rebellious, wants to move away from old customs and experiment with something radically different.

Happily, “Last Visit” stops short of taking sides, allowing viewers the freedom to make their own conclusions.

Gripping in many ways, there is a noticeable on-screen lack of women, the inclusion of which would have made the piece feel more authentic.

LA Opera declines details on Placido Domingo investigation

Updated 17 August 2019

LA Opera declines details on Placido Domingo investigation

  • LA Opera announced it would engage outside counsel to investigate the ‘concerning allegations’
  • The American Guild of Musical Artists issued a statement calling for wider investigations across the opera world
SAN FRANCISCO: The Los Angeles Opera has declined to release any details of its promised investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against opera legend Placido Domingo, the company’s longtime general director, including whether it has already started.
The union that represents opera singers said Friday that it plans a meeting in Los Angeles next week to address its members’ concerns ahead of the LA company’s season opener Sept. 14.
Len Egert, the executive director of the American Guild of Musical Artists, told The Associated Press that the union has been receiving its own reports from members since an AP story earlier this week detailing accusations against the 78-year-old singing star.
Hours after the AP story was released Tuesday detailing the allegations, the LA Opera announced it would engage outside counsel to investigate the “concerning allegations.”
Three of the nine women who accused the singer of harassment and abuse of power described encounters they said took place while working with Domingo at the LA organization. The nine women and dozens of others interviewed said Domingo’s behavior was an open secret in the industry and that he pursued younger women with impunity.
On Friday, LA Opera would not disclose who would be conducting the investigation, how it would be carried out, when it would start or its expected duration.
A spokeswoman for the company said Friday LA Opera will share details when they have information and that there was currently nothing to add beyond the statement released Tuesday.
Domingo is widely credited with raising the profile of LA Opera, where he served as an artistic consultant from 1984 to 2000, artistic director from 2000 to 2003 and, finally, general director from 2003 until now. His current contract runs through the 2021-22 season.
In its initial statement, LA Opera said Domingo “has been a dynamic creative force in the life of LA Opera” but that it is committed to ensuring that its employees and artists “be treated respectfully and feel safe and secure.”
Domingo did not respond to detailed questions from the AP about specific incidents. But he issued a statement calling the allegations “deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate,” adding “I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual.”
The allegations in the AP story sparked a global discussion among opera singers on social media forums about the culture of sexual misconduct in the classical music world and the belief that opera companies have long been aware of bad behavior and tolerated it, particularly when the accused are people in positions of power.
Aside from LA Opera, the other women quoted in the story recounted incidents they said took place at other venues, including Washington Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, ranging from 1988 into the mid-2000s.
Some of the women told the AP that Domingo used his power at the LA company and elsewhere to try to pressure them into sexual relationships, with several saying that he dangled jobs and then sometimes punished them professionally if they refused his advances.
The Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Opera announced they would cancel upcoming performances featuring the star. The Metropolitan Opera said it would await the results of LA Opera’s investigation “before making any final decisions about Mr. Domingo’s future at the Met,” where he is scheduled to appear next month.
The American Guild of Musical Artists issued a statement calling for wider investigations across the opera world.
“AGMA became aware of serious allegations of sexual harassment made by multiple women against Placido Domingo. We have contacted our employers to demand investigations into these allegations,” said the statement issued earlier this week.
Since then, “through our confidential reporting system we have been receiving reports from members,” Egert said Friday. “We are providing timely, confidential advice and guidance to these artists.” He did not elaborate.
Egert said that AGMA will be “closely monitoring the internal LA Opera investigation” and has scheduled a membership meeting in Los Angeles early next week, prior to the start of rehearsals, to address any member concerns on questions. The LA Opera 2019-2020 season starts Sept. 14 with “La Boheme.”
Asked if the union was aware of Domingo’s alleged behavior previously, he said, “AGMA did not receive complaints from its members prior to the recent news reports.”