Family Members (Mateo Bendesky, 2019) Argentina

Reviewed by: Gordon Gerbitz.  Viewed at AFI Fest 2019

Must see coming of age, family relationships and sexual awakening film seen at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, CA.  This AFI Fest 2019 entry was my first of the festival experience and Family Members (Los Miembros Dr La Familia) didn’t disappoint.  Director, Mateo Bendesky was there to introduce the audience to his self-titled style called “Magical Realistic Approach” to film making.  For Bendesky’s part, this is third in a “unofficial” trilogy were he has explored family relationships.  The first two films were “shorts” also on the subject of dual siblings of similar and different generations.  However, this full feature film follows Lucas and Gilda, a brother and sister pair who must travel back to the coastal town and the sealed house of their deceased mother.

The town holds secrets and Bendesky gives the audience the liberty to complete part of the story in our own heads.  The nearby Ocean and one of the downward descending boulevards become a character actor for the films portrait of a sleepy, desolate beach side town.  The adolescent teens turned adults have absolutely been baptized by events that turn on the “Coming of Age” moment.  Alone but together each sibling confronts each others relationship to one another and what comes next.  Therefore, facing the world alone but struggling to deal with the stages of grief in a non-goal oriented way of youth.

Lu, as Gilda calls him, has several dreams, each Bluish hued dream captured by the camera and revealed to the viewer as Lucas awakes each morning.  The choreography and cinematography absolutely create a intimate bond with all characters by using extreme “close up” style camera shots throughout the entire film.  The Ocean plays a huge backdrop in portraying life, death and eventual renewal.  Of course, not before always drawing the characters back again into old routines.  Through dreams, Lucas must confront his sexuality and the gay attraction to a his fitness guru friend Guido.  The typically stoic while awake Lucas, must also deal with grief along with Gilda.   On display throughout the movie, both siblings struggle to mend and maintain their biological and familial connection to each other.  This tenderhearted movie is a must see if you feel like you are not connecting with a new reality and/or you struggle to stay close to siblings,  for what ever reason that might be.







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