Five Movies About Family

The cinema offers many movies that depict family life. In this article, we give you five of them.
Five Movies About Family

Last update: 08 November, 2022

They say you can’t choose your family. That said, it’s one of the most determining factors in your life. Indeed, whatever the reason,   your family often predisposes or encourages many of your decisions.

However, what is a family? It’s normally a group of people who are blood relations. There are also those who’ve been adopted. 

As a matter of fact, family models vary depending on different variables, such as society, culture, or religion. Consequently, the regulation of the obligations and rights of families also depends on these variables.

The family universe is immense and complex and has many nuances. In fact, there are almost as many different kinds of families as there are people in the world. This is something that we often ignore, but that cinema allows us to reflect upon.

1. Familia, by Fernando León de Aranoa

Familia was the first movie to be directed by Fernando León de Aranoa, a filmmaker who’d previously worked in the world of television. The movie takes its starting point from a 2012 movie directed by Paolo Genovese, Una famiglia perfetta.

The central theme of the movie is a family in crisis. The protagonist, Santiago (Juan Luis Galiardo) hires a false family to celebrate his birthday with him, just so that he can feel loved for a day.

However, the theatrical representation of his family reveals a dark side. This is revealed in the title credits. The camera stops to show the details of a family photo that hides the true story of the relationship between its members.

Domestic violence

There are numerous references to domestic violence in the movie. In the opening scene, Martín tells the anecdote of Santiago’s birth that refers to this type of violence. His father wanted to slap him just after he was born so that the doctor, a stranger, wouldn’t be the first to do so.

There are also other scenes in which this type of violence is exemplified. For example, when Santiago tightens his belt and states “We can always use it to hit the children.” In another scene, when looking at a family photograph, Santiago hints that his father mistreated his mother.

The contradictions inherent in this institution are manifested in the juxtaposition of two planes. On the one hand, we see the scenes of a play. In it, the secrets, lies, and main problems of the artists emerge. On the other, we see the space of everyday life in scenes from the ‘real lives’ of the characters.

2. A Separation

Written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, this movie is a paradigm of contemporary Iranian cinema. This particular way of making movies represents the desire to portray daily life and the conflicts of Persian society from a naturalistic perspective that’s free of artifice.

Fahardi belongs to the new wave of Iranian filmmakers ushered in by Abbas Kiarostami. Except for the Movie, Beautiful City in 2004, in which he dealt with the death penalty, the central plot of the rest of his five movies in his filmography is the couple in crisis.

Nader (Payman Moaadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami) are a middle-class Iranian couple who’ve filed for divorce. She wants the whole family to go abroad, where her daughter Termeh will have a better future. However, Nader refuses. His argument is that he must take care of his father with Alzheimer’s.

The movie describes the process of destruction of two families as a result of the members putting their personal interests before reality. In the background, the resolution of a conflict that confronts the marriage is represented.

From the beginning of the movie, the viewer is a privileged witness. Our judgment about the behavior and attitude of the characters varies depending on the information available to us at specific points in the movie.

3. Rosetta

Our list of movies about families includes some in which abandonment and neglect of the parents mark the destiny of their offspring. This movie by Belgian brothers Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne won the Palme d’Or at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival. In fact, it was the most visceral cinematic experience of the year.

Rosetta, played by Émilie Dequenne, lives in a garage with her alcoholic mother. She wants to change her life. The struggle for decent work exemplifies the struggle of the poor against the poor in a capitalist system.

Rosetta is a character who captures the viewer’s heart from the outset. It’s almost as if the Dardenne brothers wanted to turn an experience of realism into something ‘trivial’. The movie made such an impression in Belgium that, in November 1999, a law on wages intended for young people was passed under the name of the Rosetta plan.

4. Live and Become, by Radu Mihaileanu

This was the first epic movie dedicated to the emigration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Radu Mihaileanu ‘s work allows the viewer to become emotionally involved in a story that much of the world is unaware of.

Schlomo is a nine-year-old Ethiopian boy who’s sent by his mother to Operation Moses, a program that returns Ethiopian Jews to Israel. But Schlomo has a secret: he’s neither a Jew nor an orphan, two lies that will mark his entire existence.

In Israel, Schlomo has the good fortune to find a happy and loving family, made up of a protective mother, a caring father, and a wise grandfather. This movie is a family drama that encompasses the complex and divisive politics of Israel, in which moderates face off against fundamentalists for the ‘soul’ of the country.

Young Schlomo finds himself at the heart of the debate, as black, Orthodox, and secular opinions erupt against a backdrop of political protests, air raids, and racial prejudice.

Go and Live is as much the story of this particular child as of any person who starts to grow up and is reborn in a new country.

5. Little Miss Sunshine, by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

Being a family melodrama, Little Miss Sunshine is a magnificent staging of a family living together over a period of time.

Little Miss Sunshine represents the best of American cinema, where movies are as successfully filmed outside the studios as in.

The Hoover family heads to California to support the youngest of the clan (Abigail Breslin) in her attempt to win the “Little Miss Sunshine” beauty pageant. However, along the way, they all have to face their own demons.

A family united without knowing it

The family consists of six people. Sheryl Hoover (Toni Collette) is a mother who finds herself having to take on more responsibilities every day. Her latest problem is a brother who’s recently tried to commit suicide.

Meanwhile, Sheryl’s husband Richard Hoover (Greg Kinnear) is trying to launch a career as a motivational speaker. While Sheryl’s son Dwayne (Paul Dano) has taken a vow of silence until he can reach his goal of becoming a test pilot in the Air Force.

Richard’s father, Edwin (Alan Arkin) also lives with the family. He previously lived in a retirement home, but his dalliances with drugs got him kicked out of the center.

Finally, there’s Olive (Abigail Breslin), the aspiring beauty pageant contestant. Little Miss Sunshine brings us closer to a group of naive souls who are besieged by conflicts and who have to undertake a journey together in order to achieve the one goal that unites them.

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  • Méndiz, A. (2008). La influencia del cine en la familia. Málaga, Universidad de Málaga.

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