Getting Rid of Relatives
“Family” directed by Veronica Kedar is a family horror film with stylized cinematography and Hitchcockian references. The lead (played by Kedar herself) murders her screwed-up family members, one by one. This a film from Israel and it is important to know that there is a cult of family in Israel. There is little tolerance for single people who are pressured to get married and procreate, or at least procreate (sperm-bank babies are popular here). There are very few married couples without children and those that do exist elicit sympathy and advice.
If there had been a perfect world, Lily Brooke would have a father who cared about her, a mother who was not addicted to pills, a sister who really cared for her and who had a conscience and a brother who had strange masturbatory practices (that included her being naked). But things did not work out that way. One day Lilly finds herself in her living room, looking at four dead bodies. She goes to her therapist after hours, to confess and to try to understand what happened that day. However, the therapist was not at home make sense of this confusing day. But Lily’s therapist isn’t home and the only person there was the therapist’s teenage, judgmental and insensitive daughter. Lilly needs attention and she isn’t going to get it there.
Of course, it’s important to understand genre conventions of this beautiful stylized film – had it been drama and not horror, the film would have dealt with the violence and responsibility for it very differently. But as it stands now, the murders in the film feel liberating, whereas the family oppression is all too real
Israeli filmmaker, Veronica Kedar, writes, directs, and stars in this film about a fractured family. It explores why Lily would all of a sudden kill her entire family. The plot is non-linear and this is a great technique to keep us guessing and imbue the film with a sense of mystery.
The film begins with a gruesome murder scene and from there it follows a structure similar to a session of therapy. It becomes a psychological puzzle that’s filled with twists and turns as it centers around a family portrait contest where a picturesque look at a perfect family is taken just moments before they all die. This shows us that people can hide who they are and the lies that photos can tell. Lily takes family portraits of the family now that are all brutally murdered and then the non-linear plot takes us through time to chronicle Lily’s various experiences with her family and just how she began to resent them so much. Lily begins this film as a monster, but she slowly receives her humanity as her life goes on and by the end it’s hard to not be on her side.
Kedar wonderfully shares the nuances of family trauma and dysfunction and she does so viscerally and beautifully. But this is also a look at a fractured family tat is upsetting and quite jarring. The film is “nominated for three Israeli Academy Awards.