Familia Louise Archambault

A French-Canadian movie that opens with a foetus montage should not be as good as Familia ends up being. Louise Archambault’s Familia creates a world of intersecting familial dysfunction that’s left to the viewer to sort through, resulting in a smartly funny movie with some actual payoff. Mimi (Sylvie Moreau) is the non-attentive, divorced mother of a rebellious teen named Margot. She’s also a gambling addict. When she goes for broke and has no one left to borrow from, she and her daughter leave their debt in Montreal and head for California. Exhausting their gas money, the girls have no choice but to impose on Mimi’s old friend, Janine, a seemingly perfect mother with a gigantic house and no financial woes. While overstaying their welcome, it becomes obvious that Janine is as stifling to her child as Mimi is oblivious to hers; her perfect life is just a façade. From there, character correlations start being tossed all over the place. Members of both families are in some way made to deal with betrayal, mistrust, abuse and abandonment, all while desperately trying to maintain some sort of formal bond. Leading this year’s "Canada First” program at TIFF, Familia bodes well for the category by not being as stuffy as typical Canadian films. It addresses the question of nature versus nurture by showing two diverse relationships, but without ever making a judgment on either one. With scenes that are stupidly clever in their intricacy and with loose ends that take the duration of the film to knot, Familia makes for an impressive feature film debut for Quebec’s Archambault. (Christal) (Cirrus Communications)