Filmed over the course of two years, Daddy Don’t Go is a patchwork story about four different fathers from New York City. We see the circumstantial and self-inflicted hardships they must face in order to be the best parents possible.
Our first subject is Nelson, 26, who lives in the South Bronx. He had some run-ins with the law when he was younger but once he started dating Rebecca everything changed. She had children already and he instantly became their father. “It takes a real man to raise another man’s kids,” he says with confidence and pride.
Omar, 34, from the North Bronx, hasn’t had it easy either. Being a dad is his top priority. He tells us it’s the only thing he is good at. Omar doesn’t have much money and doesn’t even own his own home but it doesn’t stop him from making sure his children are the happiest they can be.
Roy, 28, lives with his parents. He has one son, who is he raising alone with help from his parents. His son’s mother was too much into the party scene and Roy didn’t want any of that around his son. With his criminal past, Roy has had trouble finding work, which is frustrating when trying to provide for a young son. The best he can do is ensure he is in the best environment possible.
Our final subject is Alex, 26, from Harlem. The mother of his children was deemed unfit to be a parent, so Alex has been raising his son on his own. Alex hasn’t made the best decisions in his life but refuses to let that get in the way of being a father. “I refuse to be a deadbeat dad,” he says.
Daddy Don’t Go shines brightest in the intimate moments of watching these young men strive to be the best father possible. It isn’t always easy, especially when they don’t act in accordance with the law, but it doesn’t take away from how much the love their children. Director Emily Abt shoots the film rather straight-forward, incorporating the typical talking head style of documentaries. This is how we come to know these subjects.
Abt sprinkles social commentary throughout, giving us statistics about men as fathers. Over 1.1 million fathers are incarcerated in the United State and 38-percent are unemployed. Daddy Don’t Go is less effective as a social commentary than character study but Abt shows us that here subjects are determined to beat the odds.
Verdict: 3 out of 5
Daddy Don’t Go is effective because it tries to diminish the notion of mommy good-daddy bad. It takes no stance in terms of who is better as a parent but shows us four determined men who want to be more than a statistic.