Rodinny film (Family Film)
- English subtitles
A ‘family film’ is code in the movie business for ‘a film for kids as well as parents’. It seems this euphemism translates into Czech as well, because Family Film (Rodinny film) by emerging talent Olmo Omerzu enthusiastically defies the label it’s been given by the title. This aloof analysis of a family that’s about to blow is decidedly not for all ages…
When a film’s opening shot presents you with the perfect family unit, with two parents, two children and a dog, you pretty much know right there that things won’t end well. And so too does that unit in Family Film’s first scene, caught in the bubble of their upper-middle-class family car, soon prove to be an empty shell.
Parents Igor and Irena certainly seem like caring parents – they make sure of that. Yet they don’t think twice about leaving their two teenaged children alone in their swanky Prague apartment to sail around the world. And those kids, the grown-up Anna and younger Erik, very convincingly pretend they’re responsible young adults. But the parents’ plane is barely in the air or the kids invite trouble into the home, in the form of Kristýna, Anna’s friend who is as sexually charged as she is impulsive. Soon, the teens are strolling around the apartment building naked to stave off boredom, and Kristýna’s presence means Erik’s virginity is not long for this world.
While the parents are finding freedom on a series of deserted islands, their kids are taking every liberty in Prague. Their dog Otto is the only one actually as well-behaved as he seems. Otto is secretly the hero of Family Film: the first lines in the movie are about the family pet, he plays an unexpected lead role in the third act, and it’s even the dog who gets the last word.
The young director Olmo Omerzu, Slovenian-born but now working in the Czech Republic, presents the crumbling family in Family Film with an almost clinical detachment. It’s no coincidence that the very first shot comes from a nature documentary on frogs chasing each other out of the pond, viewed on the headrest screen in the family car. Family Film is a bit like a nature documentary itself, regarding humanity from that same detached point of view. The contrast between this style and the plot’s twists and turns, which grow more melodramatic as the film goes on, gives it a very striking, mildly absurdist tone.