Review #Venezia74: Una famiglia

Una famiglia is directed by Sebastiano Riso and it’s a drama based on a universal issue that makes people talk all over the world: surrogate motherhood. 
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]aria (Micaela Ramazzotti) is from Ostia, Vincent (Patrick Bruel) – or Vincenzo, as he is called from many – is from Paris. Both have left their families behind and live almost hidden in a small flat. The first time the spectator sees them is on the subway, sitting close, Maria holding Vincent’s arm and looking at him with heart-shaped eyes. Suddenly Maria seems attracted by two little boys and follows them with a desperate face. The viewer immediatly understands that something happens behind the perfect facade.

As the film goes on, we understand how their situation is not as rosy as it seems: Maria uses her body to sell children to families who can’t have them, but she is stuck in a “love contract” with Vincent, who isn’t the lovable man he looks. Maria is tired of having to get pregnant, make babies and then sell them without having the possibility to see them again. She wants a family on her own and wants to keep the baby. Meanwhile, Vincent meets another young girl named Stella (Matilda De Angelis), with whom we presume he is having an affair, or is trying to “buy” her into a “children trade“.

Photo credit Giacomo Cosua

Una famiglia is a heart-breaking and cruel film on the issue of surrogate motherhood. The colours in the film are faded, the saturation is turned down. The camera goes from one detail to another with close-ups and full close-ups on Maria’s face, body, nails. Micaela is wonderful in this role, she conveys so much pain and desperation that a woman could feel in her situation, but it is evident that the director is a man and not a woman. I appreciated not building a story that looks fake with a perfect and happy family, but the film makes the spectator feel uncomfortable with the scenes and with Maria’s pain. I’m sure that the main idea for Sebastiano was to make us feel uneasy about such a delicate and difficult issue, but I would have preferred a more delicate touch on the matter. Besides Micaela’s great acting, I cannot find much more to praise in this film, except that it lasts only 97 minutes.

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