Wednesday, May 11, 2022

The Perfect Family: Movie Review

Universal themes, well crafted characters.
What starts as a rom-com about family turns into a bittersweet comedy about the collapse of a picture-perfect family and an examination of gender roles in today’s society. The Perfect Family is not a pure comedy and it also shifts away from not one but two tales of romance to eventually reveal itself as an unexpected dramedy about women finding themselves at all stages of life.   2021

Directed by: Arantxa Echevarría

Screenplay by: Olatz Arroyo

Starring: Belén Rueda, Carolina Yuste and Gonzalo Ramos

It starts as a typical, but funny, romantic comedy. Pablo (Gonzalo Ramos) is gearing himself up to introduce his girlfriend Sara (Carolina Yuste) to his mother. Well, actually, they’ve already met; it’s just that Lucia (Belén Rueda) forgot because Sara isn’t who she pictured for her son. And now she has to meet the rest of Sara’s not-well-to-do family. Lucia does not do well with hiding her disgust, but Sara’s family has no problem calling her a posh bitch to her face.

The fear of having such an egotistical classist character as the heroine isn’t concerning right away because Pablo and Sara are fantastic. They’re a great couple played by two actors who can pull out all the bits of comedy hiding in the story; they’re an easy to root for couple with their crazy family bickering in the background.

Beware of what looks like bizarre pacing as Pablo and Sara’s story moves along rather quickly and it starts shifting to a second romance. This middle section is not as enjoyable and is fairly obvious early on, but it is needed to kick the movie into it’s final act.

The Perfect Family is an extremely universal Spanish film. There’s the obvious class divisions evident throughout the movie, there’s also an urban vs rural division with the film taking place in Madrid and partly in Soria, a small town in northern Spain. The more interesting attributes are the film’s take on generational differences and gender norms.

Lucia is an elder Gen X; she’s right from the Boomer-Gen X divide where women (especially upper-class women) were raised with a choice you can have a career or you can have a family but you can’t have both. Sara is a Millennial where women who made one choice over the other is seen as passé, of course you can have both. The Perfect Family is a bittersweet comedy where a “perfect” woman re-examines her life and the choices she made after mistakes are revealed and she’s forced to find a new perspective.

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