Embracing a gritty social realism, The Family is the most interesting drama coming from Venezuela since Bad Hair (2014). First-time director Gustavo Rondon Cordova takes an attentive look at a shattered South American country, currently facing political turmoil, criminality, hunger, and despair. Centered on father and son, this is a story of guilt, repentance, and sacrifice. Their dilapidated lives need a radical change so they can find a path to a more hopeful future.
12-year-old Pedro (newcomer Reggie Reyes) belongs to that group of people who never take insults lying down. He lives in a tough neighborhood in Caracas and spends most of the day in the company of his neighbor and best friend, Jonny. He barely sees his single father, Andres (Giovanni García), a hardworking man who returns home only to sleep a few hours. Even though money is around, food is not abundant. Adversity they face on a daily basis.
“…belongs to that group of people who never take insults lying down.”
One day, Pedro and Jonny fight with a kid from the slums, who approached them with a gun, to steal their cell phones. In an impulse of self-defense, Pedro slashes the kid’s neck with a piece of glass. Regardless if the boy lived or died, now their lives are in great danger. Aware of this fact, his father Andres tries the best he can to protect his only son. In turn, Pedro sees his progenitor as a weak man and keeps acting wild and disrespectful. The solution is to leave the block and then try to obtain more information from a safe place while letting things calm down.
Educational insufficiency and the milieu where you grow up represent crucial factors in the story, but also the social unevenness and corruption that hamper the country’s development. Andres might have felt embarrassed in front of his son after getting caught stealing liquor bottles from a fancy party where he was working as a waiter. However, it was from that moment on that Pedro gains some more respect, realizing how equally painful was his father’s reality.
The young Reyes stands out, and the production values are strong, with a well-deserved special mention for the cinematography of Luis Armando Arteaga (Ixcanul; The Heiresses).
The Family (2018) Directed by Gustavo Rondon Cordova. Written by Gustavo Rondon Cordova. Starring Reggie Reyes, Giovanni García.
7 out of 10 stars