Directed by Rodrigo Garcia, Familia captures the nuances of a family gathering, and its layered characters add every bit to the drama. The film is about the one day a family gathers at their ancestral home for lunch, and the light-hearted discussion gradually takes a serious turn. Leo, a 60-something living with ghosts of his past, invites all his children and grandchildren over to his olive ranch. Leo lives with his son, Benny, and at times, his girlfriend, Clara, stays over at the ranch. Leo wanted the lunch to be perfect; after all, this was not a regular gathering. He had been keeping secrets from his family, and it was finally time for them to make a significant decision.
Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Leo’s daughters, Julia, Mariana, and Rebeca, and their families prepared to live a day full of nostalgia. Julia’s life was falling apart, with her husband finding out about her affair and leaving the house without confronting her about it. She had married the boy she fell in love with when she was sixteen, and affairs were her way of living her life beyond the usual routine. They did not hold any significance to her, and maybe it was her desperate attempt to grab her husband’s attention. Julia intended on staying at the ranch for a couple more days with Amanda. Her life did not pan out the way she wanted; she always aspired to become a writer, but she lacked the discipline required to make a mark. She believed she could help her father with the ranch while spending the rest of her days working on the translation jobs she had. Julia was her mother’s favorite, and she was a prominent writer. The death of the mother had affected each of the family members to an extreme, and Julia was no different. Maybe the lack of discipline stemmed from not having her to help and guide her.
Accompanying Julia to their ancestral house was her sister, Rebeca. She was a doctor with a successful career, but there was one thing Rebeca could not stop complaining about—her twins. She found the teenagers impossible to handle, and Julia reminded her how they, too, were not easy at that age. Rebeca preferred to remember things a certain way. She did not like to be reminded of the time their mother was involved with a painter, but Julia held on to those memories. It reminded her that nobody was perfect and that her parents, as great as they were, faltered at times. With a daughter to look after, Julia perhaps often wondered if she was a good mother to her daughter, and she tried her best to conceal the uncomfortable truths from young Amanda.
Mariana was pregnant, and she brought along her girlfriend, Monica, to the family lunch. Monica was a little nervous about meeting the family, but Mariana was confident that she would fit in perfectly. Mariana was Leo’s favorite daughter, and he could not stop obsessing over finding out who the father was. While Mariana believed the father had no role to play in the upbringing of her child, Leo felt she was mistaken. He had been a support system for his children, and he was the primary reason why the family still gathered for lunch at times. Fathers play a significant role, and even if Mariana agreed with Leo, there was more than one reason why she was not comfortable sharing the name of the father with him. Benny helped his father look after the ranch. He was Leo’s constant companion, and all he wanted was to be with Leo under any circumstances. After the death of his mother, Leo was all Benny had, and with time, he also started to take a liking to Clara.
Why had Leo gathered the entire family?
Everyone at the lunch table could sense that there was a reason why Leo had invited them to the olive ranch. Leo announced that he had received an offer for the ranch, the mill, and the house from RT Foods. The company had bought a neighboring vineyard and a family farm, and according to Leo, their offer was the only one worth considering. The family had previously agreed to never sell the ranch, but they could sense that Leo had changed his mind.
Rebeca was completely against selling the ranch, especially the house. There were too many memories associated with the place, and she could not fathom losing her childhood, no matter how good the deal was. The daughters accused Leo of manipulating them, considering he had already made up his mind. He simply wanted them to agree with his decision, and Rebeca was not ready to do so. Leo started to break down the cost of maintaining the place to explain to his daughter, who mostly stayed away, what it was like to look after the property. He had taken out loans and mortgages, and while they were paid and taken care of, there were maintenance costs and machinery payments, and he also had to pay back the money he owed to the company. His daughters were oblivious to how their father managed to pay for their expenses, which involved Rebeca’s education in the United States, the downpayment for Julia’s house, and the car he bought for Mariana, which eventually crashed, and he had to get her a new one. Leo did not mind paying the expenses, but he also realized that he had to be practical about managing his wealth. The family was surprised to learn that their mother was ready to sell the ranch a long time ago, but Leo decided against it. He wanted a company that would agree to his conditions, and RT Foods happened to be the one. Even though Rebeca thought that the share they would receive was not enough, Leo was aware of how impossible it was to get everything right. After years of dedicating himself to the job, Leo expressed how tired he was of taking care of the business. He wanted to be free from his responsibility, and he hoped his children would agree with him.
Rebeca rejected Leo’s proposal, while Julia was ready to sell the ranch but not the house. Leo was not ready to look after the house, as the cost of maintaining it would leave a hole in his pocket. Even though he was born there, he believed he was ready to start his life anew. As he grew older, Leo found himself thinking of his parents, and he did not wish to spend the rest of his life dwelling in the past. He could not break free until the house was sold. The conversation eventually led to an argument, with Leo going furious and Julia leaving the table. He wanted his daughters to think logically, but somehow, the nostalgia attached to the place made it impossible. They also could not help but think that their father wanted to remind them of their expenses, and they found it somewhat insulting. Leo spoke to Julia and convinced her to stay. The get-together ended on a happy note, or so it seemed.
What does the last scene signify?
Even though the girls shared a smoke and laughed off their worries, they always carried baggage from their family gatherings. When Mariana returned home, she discussed with Monica how her father would never end up selling the ranch. Even though it was the most logical thing to do, and he was frustrated with how much work it took, he was deeply attached to the place. Meanwhile, towards the end of Familia, while stuck in traffic, Rebeca expressed how meeting her sisters always left her both happy and worried. She had her life somewhat sorted out, but Julia and Mariana were still figuring it out. Rebeca was traditional in some way, and she struggled to understand the decisions her sisters made. The father of Mariana’s unborn child was a sixty-one-year-old man, Memo Betancourt. He was Leo’s nemesis, and the decision to give birth had a lot to do with Mariana wanting to exercise her choice and also not living up to her father’s expectations. She always found herself wanting her father’s approval, and at times, she did things to remind herself that she did not need his consent to make her own decisions. Rebeca believed Mariana was living a tragic life, but Dan thought she was strong enough to live through the tough times. Rebeca was also critical of Julia’s choices. She thought it was unfair to Amanda, with her parents always on the verge of getting divorced. That kind of uncertainty could affect the child, and she worried for her future. Maybe it was because Rebeca had her life in place that she assumed she was in a position to comment on others’ life choices. Julia was her mother’s favorite, and Leo adored Mariana; perhaps that was why Rebeca always craved their approval and held them on a pedestal. Rebecca and Dan get into an argument, with her wanting him to engage more actively in gatherings. Dan did not side with Rebeca and tried to approach the sale of the ranch logically. He also expressed his admiration for Leo, and maybe all of it made Rebeca assume that he did not have her back there. Rebeca always strived for perfection, and it resulted in her feeling inadequate wherever she was.
Meanwhile, Clara decided to take a break from her relationship with Leo. She enjoyed meeting Leo’s family, but at the same time, the experience overwhelmed her. Leo was still too involved in the lives of his daughters, and she was not sure if she would ever have a place in his life.
During Familia‘s ending, Leo and Benny spend the night camping just like they had planned. The close bond between the father and the son is admirable. After Benny went to sleep, Leo stepped out of the camp for a smoke. He walked through the olive ranch, and the spirit of his deceased wife greeted him. He looked at her in awe and admiration. She still had the power to take away all of Leo’s worries in a second. She was gone before Leo could hold her close, and he was left standing alone on the ranch. The memories of the past and the people he had spent most of his life with continued to linger around him. At times, their presence made Leo feel at peace, but it also made him wonder if he was missing out on the present by living in the past. He was convincing himself when he presented the argument about selling the ranch. It was the most logical thing to do; it was what everyone with a failing business was doing, but it was also a painful choice to make. He had spent almost his entire life living there, and as much as he wanted to move somewhere else and live his life without any worry, he was afraid that he would miss these greetings from the past.