Wednesday, March 28, 2012

LLGFF: The (Not So) Perfect Family

Still from The Perfect FamilyPhew. A flurry of family dramas to get through. Just seen is The Perfect Family, Anne Renton's sly look at a would-be white picket family unit coming apart at the seams. Matriarch Eileen (Kathleen Turner on fine form) is a devout Catholic who attends Mass every day and spends every other waking hour serving the community and assuming her husband and offspring will follow her moral compass. Except hubby Frank is a recovering alcoholic, son Frank Jr. has left his wife, and daughter Shannon isn't going to get married... to a man, anyway, as Eileen discovers to her horror. A host of clever one-liners and a genuinely moving performance by Turner in what could have been a horrendously unsympathetic role make The Perfect Family a delight.

Another comic mother takes the lead in the Argentine film Mother Tongue (dir Liliana Paolinelli), as Estela learns rather late that her 43-year-old daughter Ruth has a lover of 14 years and sets about making up for lost time--by hitting the women's bars! The relationship between mother and daughter takes some twists and turns in this quirky tale.

Much more sombre in tone is Circumstance, Maryam Keshavarz's Iranian drama in which the kids take-centre stage. Best friends Atafeh and Shireen are leading double lives, veiled school girls by day and secret clubbers by night. This being Teheran, both are possible but the stakes are high for those who get caught doing anything un-Islamic, which includes the budding romantic relationship between the girls... Aside from one hilarious sequence in which the girls and their friends dub Sex and the City into Persian, the film is largely a tension-building affair, as Atafeh's increasingly paranoid brother Mehran intrudes into the girls' relationship, forcing her to make a decision about her future.

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