Set in the Ukraine, A Family tells the story of lonely man Emerson (Pavlo Lehenkyi) that hires a group of strangers to portray his family.
The group get together to practice scripts written by Emerson himself that recreate some special moments including Christmas morning, keyboard recitals and watching television together where Emerson documents the recreations on his video camera. The group are happy to portray his family and get paid for doing it but the newest recruit to the family, Emerson‘s pretend sister Ericka (Liudmyla Zamidra) who continually makes mistakes while she is portraying the sister, is constantly being corrected or told off by Emerson. But Ericka will become inspired by Emerson and will look to hire a stranger to play her father and a husband for her mother.
I think the premise of this film is interesting and unique, however, once the story is established it starts to feel slow and doesn’t really go anywhere. There were long stretches where nothing much is happening, which can be frustrating because the plot is so original that it is a shame that not a lot progresses. Some of the dialogue is presented in a deadpan style that it almost feels like the Ukranian version of a Wes Anderson film, which I enjoyed as a Wes Anderson fan.
I did also enjoy the performances of the two leading actors; Pavlo Lehenkyi‘s portrayal of Emerson is amazing as he is able to play a creepy character very well. He is able to make his face look really strange and intimidating to the point that you are unsure what his character is thinking and what he will do next. But he also has a sadness in his eyes, emotive enough to give you the feeling that his character has been through a lot in his life. Liudmyla Zamidra was also impressive as Ericka as well, her character working a dead end job, living with a lonely single mother and she seeming to be searching for validation. So it does make a lot of sense that she would take inspiration from Emerson to hire a father for herself and a husband for her lonely mother as well. I was also impressed to find out that A Family is Liudmyla Zamidra‘s only film role to date.
A Family is an original idea that is well acted but sadly fails with its execution. I believe the film does have a lot of potential mixing comedy and drama well, along with some weird moments, but it doesn’t explore its full potential and for the most part, it is slow and it goes nowhere.
A Family is part of the 2020 Revelation Perth International Film Festival and is available digitally online until the 19th of July.
For more information, visit: https://www.revelationfilmfest.org