Fantastic Fest ’12: Everybody in our Family – Review


Family strife escalates in real-time Romanian comedy

At first glance Everybody in our Family does not seem to be a likely choice for Fantastic Fest. The Romanian film begins as a rather sweet, if slow-paced, story of a divorced father picking up his daughter for a weekend at the beach. Told in real-time, the film follows Marius (Serban Pavlu) as he quickly loses his temper (and possibly his mind) thanks to a lack of patience when dealing with his extended family.

As Marius, Pavlu is a quick-witted, loving father who has a very strained relationship with his ex-wife. When he attempts to pick up his daughter, resistance from his ex-wife, her mother and her new boyfriend drive Marius to a breaking point – quickly escalating the film from subdued family drama into a ridiculous parody of domestic abuse. As the movie continues to build upon the strife between Marius and his ex-wife (played by Mihaela Sirbu), heaps upon heaps of over-the-top histrionics turn the film into a bleak, often uncomfortable, comedy.

While the escalation of Marius’ anger and frustration towards his wife comes fast and furious, to the movie’s credit it never feels quite unearned. The movie takes time to really show that Marius is trying hard to control the anger that seems to be permanently bubbling up within him. A confrontation with Marius’ father as he tries to borrow his parents’ car shows that not only does Marius has a difficulty remaining patient with those that cast judgment on him, it also shows the rage that exists in his own family thanks to his father’s bellowing anger at his son’s failure in life.

Marius’ relationship with his daughter is also strained. He showers upon her an impressive amount of love and affection but his anger and frustration towards life continues to poke its head out during his conversations with his daughter – almost invisible to the man himself.

Despite its traumatic finale, Everybody in Our Family remains a relatively subdued film. The movie balances its success on the strong central performance from Serban Pavlu and on that regard the film succeeds splendidly. The quiet, restrained interactions between Pavlu and his family keeps the film busting along at a please pace – eventually leading to a very rewarding experience as the shit hits the fan and Marius’ planned day with his daughter comes to a grinding halt.

While not necessarily an appropriate film for Fantastic Fest, Everybody in our Family is a highly recommended film thanks to its strong script and even stronger cast. Do not pass up a chance to see this twisted take on the gooey sentimentality and antics of a ‘90s American sitcom.

Director: Radu Jude
Notable Cast: Serban Pavlu, Sofia Nicolaescu and Gabriel Spahiu
Writers: Radu Jude and Corina Sabau