Thursday, 14 June 2012

“We are a family…”

Another random list of 5 things, because I can…

Today is Family History day; I wonder what one is obliged to do on such a day. Dig into their family tree, perhaps? Have a grand reunion. As far as obscure day to day celebrations go, this one is particularly specious to me. Still, I’d say that dysfunctional families (and, aren’t they all?) should use the day to examine where their faulty wiring derives from – and these five film families might have a great deal of faulty wires to peruse.

Their dysfunction manifested in various ways – here are five suspect family relations…


“It's a good thing that we had a talented daughter!” / “I can only hope that she was mine! With you as her mother, her father could be anybody in Actor's Equity!”

Hannah and her Sisters is so delightfully comedic (despite its melancholic) one might not want to say its dysfunction is so innate. In fact, other Allen pieces have families which seem to come across as more suspect. Still, from the in-sleeping, the strained sibling relationships, the garrulous parents and the overarching insistence that everything is really better than it is, this is one family that might need to iron out its issues.


“What is it with all the women in this family, that makes all the men in this family wanna leave?”
This inclusion is probably more fallacious than the former because the way things exist in Parenthood you have to admit that it really does seem to work for this bunch. But, that’s not until everything closes off because the oddities of the family (hilarious as they may be) still are odd. The workaholic patriarch of the family, known for his ability to get drunk at his children’s wedding looms over the narrative and all his children have issues, though none as worrying as Helen (Dianne Wiest) whose daughter elopes with an eighties Keanu Reeves. Truly ghastly.

a mendacious family, a royal family and a British family after the jump....


“We never were a very happy family. There just wasn't much joy in this house. It wasn't Big Daddy's fault. It was just... you know how some families are happy.”
Mendacity, mendacity is what Big Daddy shouts is afoot in a climatic scene in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Big Daddy is dying from cancer which no one wants to tell him about, one son is obsequious with an overly annoying wife and “no-neck” children, the other is hung-up on his dead friends and with a wife who’s probably faking a pregnancy, and his wife is existing in a state of disturbing faux-cheer half the time, or melodramatic lament the next. Troubling, and more troubling….

“How do you manage to put up with these people?”
How to sum it up best? Lady Syliva married to William – the man she seems to despise isn’t necessarily happy in her married life, for real. She did, after all, cut cards to end up with him as her husband, now with a daughter she has no interest in and that’s just the tip fo the iceberg. Their daughter is sleeping with an older man and pregnant, one of Sylvia’s sisters might be going bankrupt. William is sleeping with everyone it would seem, everyone also wants to kill him, especially his illegitimate son. And, add his sneering aunt-in-law played by Maggie Smith and we’ve got a party at Gosford Park.

“What family doesn’t have its ups and downs?”
The one that started it all off, maybe? – The Lion in Winter. This was one of the earliest period pieces to play out with contemporary-esque dialogue and with the familial issues there’s much dysfunction to observe. The wife’s locked away in a jail-tower, the father must chose which of his three sons to succeed him whilst he sleeps with the sister of the King of the next country (which his wife just happened to raise as a daughter). It’s also Christmastime so nerves are frayed, threats are made, plots of death are wielded, fake marriage proposals abound and secrets are revealed. Family.

(On the small screen-side, no family emerges as easily in my mind as the Six Feet Under group. True familial oddness.)

Which cinematic families would you celebrate Family History day with?

4 comments:

Stephanie said...

Great post! Thank you for reminding me of Hannah and Her Sisters and Parenthood, movie I really liked and haven't seen in years. I haven't seen Cat On a Hot Tin Roof in many years, either.

Speaking of quirky, dysfunctional families, I really like Little Miss Sunshine.

ruth said...

Great idea for a post! Hmmm, you've got me stumped as far as which movie families I'd love to celebrate Family History Day with, I never really thought of that before. Well, I don't have a sister but I also never had a dad, so I always thought the family in Little Women is so enchanting.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

stephanie thanks for the good call on little miss sunshine. that family sure had their oddities.

ruth the march family wouldn't make my list because they're rather sane, but they would be a lovely choice to spend the day with, enchanting is the right word.

Runs Like A Gay said...

I don't think you can get more dysfunctional than the Vanger's in both versions of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Serial killing Nazi alcoholics - every family has one.