AFI Fest Movie Review: ‘Family’

Film review by L.C. Cragg from AFI FEST

Director/writer Laura Steinel’s story, vision, cast and message shines like a bright beacon against the typically Indy film backdrop of, disturbing, surreal, shocking and often depressing landscape of festival films.

The well cast, well-paced, and delightful journey takes us to the worlds of Kate Stone, (Taylor Schilling), an isolated single corporate professional and her tween niece Maddy, (Bryn Vale), over a long weekend where the two are forced to examine their fears, lives, quirks and dreams. The script is enhanced with a cameo role by Kate McKinnan, who adds her talent to the film’s message.

Themes of self-loathing, gender identity confusion, bullying, desires for acceptance, and misplaced life priorities all converge to a universal message, “Be yourself, it’s all you’ve got and you’re great.”

Through humor, audiences will see the flaws in their selfish selves as well as key moments for authentic compassion, all with a scintillating sustained comedy. The dialogue is pithy, the characters freshly original, and the editing superb.
Comedy is called “King” partially because laughter releases joy. The art of comedy is the element of surprise, which Stienel’s script delivers and continues to deliver throughout the story.

Steinel’s directorial ability to relinquish control to improv actors enhances the film’s spontaneity and comedy.
This is a fun movie to watch with friends and/ or family, as the best comedy is meant to be shared, so grab a buddy for a judgment free zone of laughter and Juggalos.

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