‘My Dead Dad’ is a coming-of-age drama that follows Lucas Varela, a young man with a laidback attitude who suddenly finds himself sifting through his late, estranged father, Augusto’s affairs. Lucas is forced to move to Los Angeles to take charge of an apartment building his father leaves him. However, the young man still holds a deep grudge against his father and finds the whole undertaking quite distasteful.
More than once, we see a tape addressed to Lucas kept on a dresser in Augusto’s apartment (which Lucas now occupies). Lucas lingers around the tape and looks at it thoughtfully multiple times but doesn’t play it till the end of the movie. Here’s what Augusto leaves his son on the tape addressed to him. SPOILERS AHEAD.
What is On the Tape That Augusto Leaves Lucas?
Despite the tape lying ready to be played in a tape player, Lucas cannot get himself to listen to it. For most of the film, the young man remains conflicted about how he feels about his father. In fact, Lucas isn’t even open to hearing others’ opinions about Augusto, especially when they’re positive. He prefers to cling to the image of his father he’s cultivated over the years — that of an uncaring man who abandoned his family.
The fact that Lucas isn’t open to forgiving his father is largely why he doesn’t play the tape. However, as the tenants pile praise on Augusto, the son’s opinion wavers. The building supervisor, Frank, also patiently explains to Lucas how he might have misunderstood his father. Finally, when the supervisor reveals that Augusto actually attempted to meet Lucas many times but was kept away by his mother, the confused son relents and begins to see his father in a kinder light.
Lucas finally plays the tape from Augusto as he drives away from LA. On the recording, Augusto answers many of the questions that have lingered in his son’s mind. In a winding monologue, the late father confirms how Lucas’ mother stopped him from visiting Lucas but also describes her as a strong woman. He also admits to his own wrongdoing that contributed to the breakdown of their marriage.
He then delves into his thoughts about fatherhood and reveals that he never wanted to be one. Augusto says that even after Lucas was born, he didn’t want to have a child. However, he realized that he wanted Lucas. Essentially, his son helped Augusto embrace the concept of fatherhood. Combined with the previous revelation of Lucas’ mother purposely keeping him away, it becomes clear that Augusto genuinely loved his son and, under different circumstances, could have been a caring father.
Finally, Augusto explains why he left Lucas the apartment building. On the recording, he tells his son not to consider the building important for its financial value. Instead, the late father reveals he left Lucas the building so that he would have something to call his own when he became a man. Augusto also draws attention to the eccentric tenants, saying that Lucas could learn a thing or two from them.
Fittingly, by the time Lucas hears his father’s recording, he has already learnt quite a bit from the tenants, including the fact that his father was a well loved and caring landlord. He also already knows about how his mother kept Augusto away and that his father truly loved him. Essentially, Lucas broadly knows almost everything that is revealed on the tape. However, hearing his father’s voice reinforce all that Lucas has learnt makes it all the more meaningful. As he listens to his father’s voice on the car’s tape deck, Lucas’ smile seems to signify that the recording is the final push that Lucas needs to change his opinion and realize that Augusto was a caring father after all.
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