From the Video Shop
Derecho de Familia
English Title: Family Law
2006 - Argentina - 102 minutes
Writer and Director - Daniel Burman
My Rating - 3 of 5 Stars
I have looked at seven new films from the video shop during the past week* and found that I liked only one - Family Law - which I watched on Sunday evening. So now, here I am on Monday morning trying to get a little said about this charming little movie before I have to begin, again, my preparations for an influx of relatives arriving mid-week in celebration of the commencement of my niece's husband from Catholic University Law School.
I guess it is a bit of an irony that this film deals with family relationships considering its arrival in my life at this particular point in time. The relationships - particularly between fathers and sons - explored in Family Law are loving but sometimes painfully distant. The film is narrated by the son who experiences, by the end of the film, recognition of what it means to be a father and a son for in the film we see three generation of Perelmans. The grandfather is a popular attorney who doesn't shy away from shady deals. He has an "in" almost everywhere in the system and uses it to the advantage of his clients. The son - Ariel, our narrator - is also a lawyer and professor of law who holds ethics as his highest esteem.
Ariel becomes attracted to a student in one of his classes and sets out to woo her. Ironically, he is finally able to do so by seeking his father's help in a law suit in which his love is involved.
Skip ahead a couple of years and Ariel is now a father but not a very good one. His approach to child rearing is like something out of the 1950's. Through a series of circumstances, Ariel comes to fully appreciate his father and gain the knowledge of how to be a better father himself.
This is a story that has been told and retold, so what's so special about this film? It's the acting and direction. Daniel Hendler plays Ariel with quiet introspection to reveal emotions both painful and joyous. The charming, exuberant grandfather is played by Arturo Goetz giving us a man we have to love even though some of his dealings are not exactly kosher. The grandson has a face that makes you want to go, "Ahhhhhh." He is played by Eloy Burman. I could not find whether or not he is related to the director.
The women in the lives of these three are Ariel's wife, Sandra, and the grandfather's secretary, Norita. Sandra - played by Julieta Díaz - is a modern woman who doesn't give much quarter to her husband's quirks (such as sleeping fully dressed with tie and all) and his failures at being a better father to their son. Adriana Aizemberg gives a heartfelt and touching performance as Norita, the loyal secretary.
I had worked really hard all day Sunday in preparation of the coming "invasion" but was then treated to this great little flick. It was the perfect reward for me. I think that you, too, would find this film rewarding.
*For those who wonder, the seven were Fun Down There, Short Stack, Does God Exist?, The Dead Girl, The Fountain, Seraphim Falls, and Family Law.
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