Family Film

***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Family Film
"Omerzu's observational, unsentimental style and the cool, stripped back lensing from Lukas Milota means that increasingly outlandish unfortunate events unfold with an acidic humour rather than melodrama."

Although an unforeseen event provides a turning point for Olmo Omerzu's Family Film, there is a sense of rigorous control in terms of the narrative and direction. Beginning on a drive with a family, the nature programme the children are watching in the back seats about the mating habits of frogs, will come to echo through the rest of the film and will have taken on a deep irony by the time the final credits roll.

Omerzu and writing partner Nebojsa Pop Tasic focus on two of the chief drivers of teenage activity - boredom and sex. Erik (Daniel Kadlec), at 15, will get a taste of the latter through the course of the film but, in the meantime, has taken his ennui to almost art form proportions, jumping and racing his scooter through his family's immaculate apartment so that it bangs satisfyingly on the wooden floor. If the neighbours come to call? Just pretend to be the family dog Otto. His older sister Anna (Jenovéfa Boková) is the 'sensible' one, more sensible perhaps than their parents Igor (Karel Roden) and Irena (Vanda Hybnerová), who for reasons that remain opaque have decided to leave the kids home alone to go on a seafaring adventure half way round the world. The fact that they take Otto with them speaks volumes.

This form of hands-off parenting is shown to gradually reap the whirlwind by Omerzu, although his observational, unsentimental style and the cool, stripped back lensing from Lukas Milota means that increasingly outlandish unfortunate events unfold with an acidic humour rather than melodrama. Left alone, Anna invites her friend to stay. The coquettish Kristýna (Eliska Krenková) is off-setting her boredom with dares and flirtation, with Erik the nearest mark for her attentions. When Erik starts to skip school, Igor's brother Martin (Martin Pechlát) is forced to step in to stop the kids going off the rails, but this only marks the start of the family's problems.

Omerzu watches the trouble unfold with a detachment that may reduce the film's appeal for some viewers, and there is a risk in the early scenes that Erik's boredom could be contagious for us, as the idea of kids going rogue without parental guidance is not particularly unusual in indie film. As the film progresses. however, a bigger scheme begins to emerge, as Otto - who finds himself alone - is given the most immediately emotional arc of the narrative as he tries to stay alive. Otto, in many ways, holds the key to the film as we find ourselves wholly engrossed in his accidental peril as the human's self-inflicted trauma seems to recede in significance by comparison. Dogs Flek and Perth give command performances as Otto, as he fiercely fights for survival while the humans, it seems, are more attracted to self-destructed influences. Omerzu and Pop Tasic's greatest achievement is to bring these two elements back together in a climax that is satisfying without being overly sentimental.

Reviewed on: 24 Nov 2016
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A family starts to disintegrate after the mother and father leave the children home alone.

Director: Olmo Omerzu

Writer: Olmo Omerzu, Nebojsa Pop Tasic

Starring: Karel Roden, Jenovéfa Boková, Martin Pechlát

Year: 2015

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia, France


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