By Mónica Delgado
It’s impossible not to see La Familia from the political, social and economic crisis that Venezuela has been suffering in the last years. However, Gustavo Rondón Cordova isn’t looking to make a social diagnosis or any kind of critique to the present regime in his first feature film.
The working neighborhood of Caracas, of multifamily buildings that look to the hills, invaded by houses like in the Brazilian favelas, the popular avenues or decadent streets of the capital, all configure a chaotic city, that shelters a father and his 12-year-old son in a runaway after the boy kills another kid by accident in a fight. La Familia deals with this escape from death as a way of revenge.
By far the most interesting thing in the film is that Rondón discovers a tension in this escape little by little, of a father and son that seem to barely know each other in this hard circumstance. The urgency of a desperate father against the resistance of a son that doesn’t understand his situation is to protect his son against thugs, to hide him in the heart of a city in crisis, in the middle of the summer, and struggling to get some money in secrecy.
The Venezuelan filmmaker chooses a style very close to the Dardenne brothers, with a handheld camera following the characters in this escape, with close shots that highlight the physical side of bodies working, in silence and in tension. The occasional job of the father as a carpenter, builder or waitress, slowly builds a personal and social panorama of unemployment, of informality against an unstable future. And to enter into the relationship father/son and its progression from this jobs that help both of them get nearer to each other, is an element that Rondón knows how to use to deepen his gaze on the formation of this new family.
Presented in Critics’ Week, La Familia is a work about adolescence and the fatherly bond in the middle of a crisis, that doesn’t exploit miseries or deals with misery-porn, something that one is always thankful for. A good defense of Latin America in this Cannes edition.
Director: Gustavo Rondón Córdova
Script: Gustavo Rondón Córdova
Cast: Reggie Reyes, Giovanni García
Producers: Rodolfo Cova, Alvaro de la Barra, Dag Hoel, Marianela Illas, Natalia Machado, Gustavo Rondón Córdova, Rubén Sierra Salles
Cinematography: Luis Armando Arteaga