This debut feature film from Venezuelan filmmaker Gustavo Ronon Cordova which is not just a mere indictment of the financial consequences of his country’s near economic collapse, but on the dire effects it has on the family.
His two-hander of a story is of a father and son living in near slum conditions in a rough no-go area of Caracas, and it soon becomes apparent that there is little connection between Andres (Giovanni Garcia) and his 12-year-old son Pedro (Reggie Reyes). Andres is away most of the time, working as a laborer by day and a cater waiter at night to scrape together a living which he supplements with any bottles of alcohol he can pilfer from his work to resell. Meanwhile, Pedro whiles away his time with his best friend Jonny and other kids on the streets brawling and getting into mischief.
One day an attempt by another kid to mug Pedro and steal his phone goes horribly wrong and ends up with Pedro stabbing him and leaving to bleed to death on the street. Andre fearing the revenge from the boy’s family, overruling all of Pedro’s vehement objections, insists that they leave their ‘house’ and go into hiding. Being forced to spend time together at close quarters is tough on them both as not only do they actually loathe each other, but they also have very little to even talk about. So much is left unsaid, that we never know what happened to Pedro’s mother, or actually what Andres gets up too when he is not working.
As the two keep on the move seeking safe refuge Pedro does at least for the first time in his life get a sense of how tough life is for his father is as he demeans himself on a daily basis just to earn the pittance he gets. He also thinks he is tougher than his father insisting that they should have stayed at home and stood their ground, but he changes his mind after discovering that the dead boy’s family had come looking for him and had killed his best friend Jonny instead.
This compelling and shocking movie is a telling testament to the current state of Venezuela which has moved past the point of abject poverty and now breeds a climate where lawlessness goes unchecked and street killings almost become a matter of fact. It’s now a society where one poor man cannot find actual food in the local grocery store to spend the pittance of a pay he made waiting on the tables of the rich.
Garcia playing the struggling father who always appeared so overwhelmed by his life was pitch perfect, as was young Reyes playing Pedro having literally being cast off the street for this his very first acting role.
There is a very definite sense of irony calling the film ‘the family’ as the what we witness on the screen resembles nothing like we would ever imagine as a family, but in the culture that now prevails in Venezuela, this may very sadly become a norm for the people who are confined to living in the country’s slums.