The Family

Sunday, 15 December, Year 5 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

The Familyi is marred by a very serious problem of contemporaneity.

It's the story of a family, from the US, relocated in France. As newcomers they enter the local hierarchy at the bottom level, as is normal and to be expected. The mother, being mildly rebuffed at the grocery shop as part of her re-education, becomes angry and creates a propane tank explosion, the consequences of which she escapes. You know, just like a psychopath. The daughter, being taken by the local boys for a ride as part of her re-education (nothing serious, mind you, seeing how for one she agrees to go and for the other they just take her to a picnic, not like there's any impropriety committed) violently assaults them with a badminton racquet. The consequences of this she also escapes, also just like a psychopath.

This is of course on the face of it ridiculous. It has been born out of the unfortunate intersection of two very serious but perfectly distinct problems. One is the sliding scales of competition. You know how action films started with a few shots fired in the 60s and ended up with thousands of bodies mowed down in the 90s, before going completely into bathos with failures a la Kill Bill ? If you gotta outdo the competition and all you've got are bullets what can you do but shoot more of them ? So what if your heroes couldn't move other than swimming in a sea of spent shells, so what if no man borne out of woman can fire semiautomatic hand cannons out of both hands, so what if no gun can shoot continuously without eventually melting ? Competition! You know how hyperbolae met the Internet one day and then ended up on ? Gotta outdo the competition.

This isn't an action movie, nor is it a marginally literate write-up of uninteresting banality, but nevertheless : once the trend was to depict women as "powerful" or "equal to men", it never ends, I fully expect the next decade to bring CGI Alien-inspired doubles for all female leads, so that at the slightest provocation they can turn into


Men really like that.

The other problem is a quite real inability of the products of modern day US to adapt or educate themselves. Most people living in free societies nevertheless undergo as children the forcible, traumatic experience where they have to, whether they'd like to or not, whether they think it a good idea or not, whether they find it expedient, desirable, nice, pleasant or anything else, have to, have to go to school. Which doesn't just mean go there, physically, it means learning, and doing your homework, and becoming a different person. Not a different person of their choosing, and in no way subject to their taste, preference, desire or acceptance. Have to. Have to.

US kids are "spared" this rod, and as a result grow up spoiled, which is to say unable to adapt and unable to educate themselves. This means quite factually that taken to any other environment their only available option, both perceived and in many cases quite real, is violence. Either directed against the environment (at least in the idealised virtual reality of cinema, where things can be done, l'esprit d'escalier is not a thing, fear is even less of a thing and consequences not even jokingly a thing) or (most usually) directed against themselves.

So, it's a meeting of two most unfortunate problems of an otherwise doomed culture. And it mars its products, to the degree of making them useless other than for parody and general amusement of the rest of humanity, that's not thus broken. Which is a pity, because both actors take themselves seriously, and used to be serious actors not so many years ago. Yet in the hands of Besson, in the year 2013, they're nothing but Ronald McDonalds, and not even the tragic Pagliacci sort. They're just very sad, very scared, very desperate, plaster casts of a rather unfunny character with no real cause to exist (other than, of course, some corporation's desire to sell hamburgers).

Leaving that aside : Michelle Pfeiffer can not fucking say "Giovanni"ii like she's ever as much as had a chef's salad in Little Italy. It's painful to watch. She can play the hooker girlfriend of ex-convict Pacino, she can be the voice of Tzipporah in Ancient Egypt, she can Catwoman just fine. She can't say Giovanni to save her life.

The nonsense just keeps piling and piling. The guy that ran a neighbourhood ? He's whining at his wife for permission to write his memoirs. Because yeah, a lot of old style mobster types are married in the sense of, the wife has a say in anything. I think I met a total of... myheah. Nevermind. Then he beats the plumber into a pulp. Cause he's tough like that, and besides people with gray hair often beat plumbers 20 years their junior to shit. And besides, people who beat people they've just met often get to be running their own neighbourhood. I've seen it all the time. Not.

The girl that's alien above ? Her brother, mr Exposition, gratulates her as "a maniac" after she beats the shit out of some girl in the bathroom, which apparently is a compliment. But wait... she's a virgin. Because she's going to "choose the time, and the place, and it's going to be with the love of her life".

It's mock the US day, basically. Grab a chair and enjoy.

  1. 2013, by Luc Besson, with Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer. []
  2. To better appreciate Besson's scathing mockery of everything : the fictional ex mobster's name ? Giovanni Minzoni. That's right, like the fucking symbol of Italian catolicism. []
Category: Trilematograf
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