Familia could make a decent dramatic feature, but it makes for a somewhat bizarre work of nonfiction. The story of a poor Peruvian family whose aging matriarch travels to earn higher wages as a maid in Spain, the film is shot with such verisimilitude and cinematic artistry that it’s almost impossible to experience its tightly constructed narrative as something real rather than the product of a screenwriter’s imagination. How could a cameraperson not have affected the dynamic between Daniel and Nati as he doubts whether she actually loves him? With the characters never acknowledging the presence of an observer, are we really supposed to believe that there was no element of performance? Swedish filmmakers Mikael Wiström and Alberto Herskovitz rendered their portrait of domestic strife and exurban poverty with the same kind of Nordic austerity characteristic of modern European drama. The product is a real story that ends up feeling packaged—because it feels like fiction, it also feels clichéd. Which isn’t to say it’s not a beautiful film. Just be ready for some cognitive dislocation along the way.
At 4 p.m. at AFI Silver Theater 2; also on Sunday, June 27, at 11:30 a.m. at AFI Silver Theater 3.