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VENICE 2017 Competition

Una famiglia: A family always has secrets

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- VENICE 2017: Sebastiano Riso's second film, in competition for the Golden Lion, tackles the dramatic theme of the black market for newborn babies

Una famiglia: A family always has secrets
Micaela Ramazzotti and Patrick Bruel in Una famiglia

Tackling the dramatic theme of rented wombs, or rather, the black market for new born babies, Una famiglia [+see also:
trailer
interview: Matilda De Angelis
interview: Sebastiano Riso
film profile
]
 is Sebastiano Riso's second film in competition at Venice Film Festival. Produced by Indiana with Rai Cinema with the participation of French BAC Films (also its exporter) and the collaboration of Manny Films, the film is due to be released in Italy on 28 September by BIM.

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Along with screenwriters Stefano Grasso and Andrea Cedrola, Riso has studied the dynamics of the black market, carefully listening to dozens of recordings of wiretappings from real-life cases, as well as thousands of pages of documents provided by the Procurator of Grosseto. Adopting a child is a complicated business for heterosexual couples and is actually currently illegal for homosexual couples. Some people end up becoming ‘receivers’ of children, taking advantage of a legislative vacuum and thus strengthening the black market. Riso doesn’t choose pursue the path of a legal thriller with Una famiglia, nor is he interested in investigating the idea of motherhood or fartherhood as the ultimate expression of selfishness. Instead, Riso’s story focuses on the twisted relationship of a couple making a living as illegal "donors."

Set in Rome, the protagonist Maria (Micaela Ramazzotti, who also starred in the filmmaker's debut, Darker Than Midnight [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, selected forInternational Critics' Week at Cannes 2014), a young woman from the suburbs, becomes obsessed with the children she has given away, seeing them everywhere, even on the metro. Many years previously she met and fell head over heels for Vincenzo (Patrick Bruel), a fascinating, cool and controlled Parisian. The film begins with Maria’s rebellion and her dreams of having a real family. While Vincenzo forces her to eat the leaves of a Peruvian plant, which supposedly increases fertility, Maria secretly goes to the doctor to get the coil fitted and to stop a business that gets Vincenzo a cool €50,000 a pop. But despite being fairly functional in order to improve the chances of future sales, the sex they have is both intense and passionate. What is it that pushes Mary to love a monster whose only intention is to use her as a baby factory? We are left to imagine the previous injuries that must have pushed this woman to fall in love with someone with such a masochistic attitude, in what is perhaps an unconscious search for suffering and humiliation. Vincenzo is certainly doing it for the money, but when a “buyer” claims to have seen his past in his eyes, he responds with "you can't even imagine." Two mentally dysfunctional individuals united in an atrocious project, in which the woman is forced to pro-create, experiencing months of pregnancy only for them to culminate in a childless birth. Maria must live life in the shadow of the perpetually missed opportunity of motherhood, which results in a never-ending period of mourning that only gets worse.

A carefully directed film that includes many dolly, macro-focal and long shots, as well as cameras that constantly move and linger on extreme close-ups of the desperate protagonist. Sebastiano Riso develops the story by really emphasising dramatic excess, in order to show us the hidden faces of our society. The film also stars Pippo Delbono, Fortunato Cerlino, Marco Leonardi, Matilda De Angelis and Ennio Fantastichini.

(Translated from Italian)

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