Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In short: Somos Lo Que Hay (2010)

aka We Are What We Are

The family unit is in crisis! Admittedly, the specific family unit in crisis in Somos Lo Que Hay is a family of ritual cannibals quickly breaking down after the father of the family dies (bad food, I suppose), but a family's a family, right? As is par for the course in film's about families breaking down, we also meet or old friends Repressed Homosexuality and Undercurrent of Incest again, strutting their stuff as they are wont to do.

The film's director Jorge Michel Grau sure has an eye for urban squalor (alas, also for the usual yellow and green colour filters that make everything look slightly vomit- and urine-coloured, as if being poor and pissing up one's own walls were the same thing), as well as for getting pretty impressive performances out of very young actors, but he keeps an emotional distance from his characters that makes it difficult to care about them or what happens to them, however impressive their acting abilities. I'm just not feeling much about the film beyond respect for its technical achievements, that are admittedly high. The lack in relatable emotional grounding on display makes Takahisa Zeze look like the warmest director alive.

Sure, it wouldn't be easy to make cannibals into figures worthy of emotional involvement, but I honestly think it's part of a film's job to make me care about its characters or their problems in a non-clinical way, especially when (apart from the - of course metaphorically loaded, but unexciting - cannibalism) its basic ideas and concepts are as unoriginal as those of Somos Lo Que Hay are; if I had a dollar for every movie about families breaking down that isn't too friendly towards the concept of family, I'd be filthy rich and much happier.

My opinion of the movie surely isn't improved by my own antipathies towards its themes: there's not much that interests me less than a story looking at a dysfunctional family as if they were bugs pinned under glass, apart from a story about the hard life of middle-aged rich white male academics trying to get into the pants of girls half their age.

Oh well, that's what happens when a film meets its least fitting viewer.


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