Dir: GUSTAVO RONDON CORDOVA | Cast: Giovanny Garcia Reggie Ryes | 2017 VENEZUELA-CHILE-NORWAY || 82 MINS || IN SPANISH || FEATURE
Twelve-year-old Pedro roams the streets with his friends in the violent atmosphere of working class Caracas. A serious street fight leads to him fatally wounding another another boy, so single father Andrés decides they must leave the city in an adventure that will leave them closer than they have ever been.
Gustavo Rondon Cordova’s debut as director and writer is a dark and pessimistic portrait of working class Venezuela. Father and son find themselves on the run from a vengeful mob – and even though we never see the pursuers – which strangely makes the threat feel more menacing, the title is ironic – rather like Michael Haneke’s Happy End.
The absence of women in the mens’ life is key in informing the storyline: Andres’ girl-friend, Zoreida, has been a casual affair, and we only learn about Pedro’s mother because she liked swimming with him. Having to work day and night, Andres had no time to be a proper father, and Pedro resists authority in every way. The two are like hunters, fighting for a living, always confronted with the comstant threat of violence. Their flight is a metaphor: it is not just the vengeful mob they are fleeing, it is a whole way of life. The narrative unfolds episodically, to show the transient nature of their life. The unrest created leads always to more abrupt change. Both seem self-destructive: a clear sign of the lack of female input.
LA FAMILIA is always understated, even the chase lacks any sensationalist angle. Well-paced and impressively photographed: DoP Luis Armando Artega evokes a lush and magical sense of place in contrast to the their raggedness of their rat race. A really imaginative debut. MT
CANNES FILM FESTIVAL | 17-28 MAY 2017 | SEMAINE DE LA CRITIQUE