A Sort of Family: Not without my son
by Alfonso Rivera
- SAN SEBASTIÁN 2017: Bárbara Lennie gives a magnificent performance as a woman desperate to become a mother in this drama by Diego Lerman, co-produced by Argentina, Brazil and myriad European countries
For the first time, Bárbara Lennie, now settled in Spain but originally from Argentina, has shot a film in the South American country, and it could potentially earn her as many acting awards as Magical Girl [+see also:
interview: Carlos Vermut
film profile], the movie that garnered her the Goya. The film in question is A Sort of Family [+see also:
film profile], a drama directed by Diego Lerman (The Invisible Eye [+see also:
film profile], Refugiado [+see also:
film profile]), which is competing in the official section of the 65th San Sebastián Film Festival.
In the screenplay, penned by Lerman and his regular writing partner, María Meira, we are introduced to Malena, a doctor from Buenos Aires who is on a trip with her cat, stops in the middle of the road on the way somewhere and wonders whether to carry on in the same direction, as a million doubts, worries, fears and insecurities eat away at her. Her course of action could alter her life forever: she has received a phone call asking her to go and pick up a boy who is just about to be born and who she will adopt, thus fulfilling her long-standing dream of being a mother.
But what ensues is by no means a problem-free birth. Unforeseen medical, bureaucratic and moral complications will turn this long-hoped-for event into a never-ending onslaught of problems, and as she tries to solve them, Malena will start to call into question her most deeply ingrained intentions. All this is portrayed by the fantastic Bárbara Lennie, an expert when it comes to this type of female role, playing a character who is halfway down the path to madness or mired in a perpetual state of existential doubt. Lerman entrusts her with the entire weight of this intense drama that he unfurls, in which he also broaches the thorny topics of social inequalities, moral boundaries, deep-seated machismo and surrogate mothers.
A Sort of Family is, likewise, symbolic of utter desperation, painting the portrait of someone in search of ways out of unsolvable problems and who stumbles forward without thinking, without calculating the terrible consequences of her actions. The whole film is shrouded in an atmosphere of Greek tragedy, in which the vivid colours of certain scenes are combined with a completely deus ex machina moment that is shocking on account of its sheer abruptness. Thus the movie ends up leaving an uncomfortable aftertaste, prompting reflection on the ambiguity of good judgement, unanswered questions and powerlessness, because no human being can fight against the forces of nature and the whims of cruel fate: in the end, we are all the product of the place where we are born, grow up and live our lives.
A Sort of Family is a co-production between Argentinian outfit Campo Cine (headed up by Diego Lerman and Nicolás Avruj), Brazil’s Bossa Nova, France’s Bellota Films, Germany’s 27 Films Production, Denmark’s ACT3A/S and SnowGlobe, and Poland’s Staron Films, and it was made in cooperation with Telefé (Argentina). Its international sales are handled by Spanish firm Film Factory Entertainment.
(Translated from Spanish)
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