This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
Jan Kadar's "Lies My Father Told Me" isn't about lies, really, but about certain truths that a little boy and his grandfather fiercely refuse to accept. The boy, who's about 8 years old, is just at that age when we start making choices in our lives, and taking sides. He's a bright kid, high spirited, and his father and grandfather have very different notions of what he should be taught, how he should behave -- indeed, of what kind of person he should grow up to be.
The father's an ambitious young man (all the more ambitious because he's been consistently unsuccessful) who dreams of escaping from Montreal's Jewish ghetto, circa 1925, with inventions like expanding cufflinks and creaseless trousers. The grandfather (Yossi Yadin) is an 0ld-country Jew with old ways; he keeps a horse in a stable out behind the house, and every day he and the horse trace their junk route, buying and selling, trading gossip, holding to a beloved routine.
The son, David, is frightened of his father's sudden rages, but loves his grandfather. And together they love the horse, which is an old and shabby beast that should have found its way into a glue pot years ago. The boy rides along with his grandfather, and sits in the stable for long talks with him, and learns Jewish tradition and folklore in the most astonishing variations. The grandfather, it appears, has a direct understanding with God and doesn't require the assistance of rabbis, organized religion or the written word in order to interpret the Deity's outlook on every subject from eternal life to the care and feeding of horses.
The father is embarrassed by the grandfather's old-fashioned ways, and humiliated by the fact that the family still keeps a horse in the age of automobiles. Sociologists would see him as a second-generation ethnic immigrant striving for assimilation, but he doesn't see himself that way. His self-image is of a modern man, a person on top of new developments -- progressive, inventive, freed from servitude to old-country ways.