More noise than signal

La familia

Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

We don’t get a lot of Venezuelan films coming through our doors, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of Gustavo Rondón Córdova’s recent-ish drama. Set in the less salubrious end of Caracas, 12 year old Pedro (Reggie Reyes) is doing some very typical 12 year old things, playing with his friends, when he’s held up at gunpoint by a shockingly young kid from an even less salubrious part of Caracas. The altercation ends in blood, but not Pedro’s.

On returning home to Giovanni García’s Andrés, his father recognises the severity not just of the action but the probably disproportionate reaction it will provoke from the local thug’s family, and takes Pedro on the lam.

At the risk of being a little dismissive, there’s not a great deal more to tell you on a narrative level. The family camp out in the middle class house that Pedro has been working on renovating, and Andrés tries to make a bit of extra-legal quick cash on a side gig while father and son try to come to terms with the shifting dynamic of their relationship, which doesn’t seem all that warm to begin with, while dealing with the stress of their particular situation.

I’d be lying if I said I was entirely blown away by La familia, but I was quite engaged with it throughout despite, arguably, not all that much happening after the first act. As a character piece it’s… well, it held my interest, and the relationships between father and son seem natural and believable, in as much as there’s not a lot explicitly said, it more about the nuance of smaller actions. I’m not altogether sure that fits with the higher stakes drama of the opening, though. I almost expected it to turn into City of God, but this is centred on avoiding violence, not instigating.

So, while it held my attention well enough for its two hours, at the end I perhaps was left wanting more – either a deeper insight into the characters, or the setting, or the drama of the events, or ideally all of the above, and enough progress is made into all these paths to make this a good film, but not, I’d say, a great one.