Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Check It. "A Family."

In today's media-drenched society, it can be difficult to be surprised about new releases. But that's where the fun in film festivals lies--amongst all the galas and world premieres and flashy stars (trying to retain their cred in indies), there are those smaller films that are finally getting their chance to shine, and deservedly so. I took in a screening at the L.A. Film Festival sort of on a whim this past Saturday, and ended up seeing one of the best dramas of the year.

Denmark's En Familie (A Family) follows the Rheinwalds, a storied history of whom is told in a charming prologue with cute titles and photographs. They're a baking brood, to understate it; carrying the family's deep responsibilities as official purveyors of bread to Danish royalty, and (in a running gag) as the offspring of the great-grandfather who created the bakery after walking from Germany to Denmark with just a sack of grain over his shoulder.

It's an emotional pressure that comes all too harshly in the present world upon Ditte Rheinwald, the oldest and most adored daughter in the family, the one hand-picked to take over the Rheinwald Bakery. The weakening of her father's health comes all too coincidentally with her big chances in her career and life, and it's not for the better.

With notes of Ingmar Bergman's stark beauty and Noah Baumbach's and Jonathan Demme's familial turmoils, A Family is a gripping and emotional tale. As with any family, there are the highs and lows, the sacrifices and the responsibilities, and this film tunnels you through them all. But with wonderful acting and beautiful cinematography, you can't help but get wrapped up in it. Let this one take you by surprise.

A Family is screening as part of the prestigious Narrative Competition at the LAFF. The next and last showing will be tomorrow, Wed. June 22nd at 4:45pm at the Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live. The LAFF continues until June 27th.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

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