The availability of DNA tests enabled those who gradually began to learn the truth to seek out information about others, and as local officials were unable or unwilling to take action against Cline, which was ostensibly a pillar of the community, the conduct of what amounted to a private investigation .
The events were initiated by Jacoba Ballard, who was understandably surprised to find that DNA revealed she had several half-siblings. From there, director Lucie Jourdan began talking to others, including Cline’s parents, children and colleagues — who said they “did not know” what was going on — exploring everything from their stunned responses to the mechanics of how doctors got out of practice so Long.
The production notes describe it as an “unimaginable betrayal of trust,” and it’s a loud and clear message. But the film becomes more ambiguous in finding the motivations for Klein’s actions, both in terms of his personality and his religious beliefs, while relying on eerie music and camera angles to unnecessarily embellish the material. (Unfortunately, the fact that the horror movie factory Blumhouse is behind the project is obvious.)
Netflix has found success with a similar theme and execution, “The Tinder Swindler” being a recent example. However, the popularity of the true crime genre is often accompanied by a tendency to cater to more dastardly instincts, which is the case here.
The sense of encroachment the story brings is almost palpable, and Our Father certainly conveys that. If the filmmaker trusts the audience enough, present it in a more unadorned way.
“Our Father” will premiere on Netflix on May 11.