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Familia Sumergida | María Alché

Familia Sumergida | María Alché

[…] Old ladies from another epoch do not come out of a photo album, but emerge directly from the untwisting curtains of her apartment, like a weird and distant bloom that unfolds from the familiar world. That is a brilliant example of what only cinema can do!

[…] Through an editing process (Livia Serpa) that avoids sharp cuts, Maria Alché shapes a spiritual and highly cinematic time from an initially naturalist tale, where past, present and future are melted together.

[…] «Familia sumergida» so becomes a convincing story of taking back one’s own identity as an individual, a story that shows how a personal legacy, even through the absence of a departed person, can work at the deepest level of our spirit.

INTERVIEW WITH MARIA ALCHÉ: COMING SOON!

 

Marcela (an amazing Mercedes Moràn) is a wife and a mother, and her family revolves around her, the magnetic pole of attraction for a varied microcosm of personalities. The opening scenes of Familia sumergida strike for the perfect fluidity of a wonderful camera (Hélène Louvart) that seems to dance with the characters of the family: the centrifugal forces of both individuals and events are contraposed, but without any breaking, with the pivotal figure of Marcela. Marcela is far from being a solid rock at the centre of the stage though: the recent loss of her sister Rina manifests itself through the always more incumbent presence of her absence – we will never see Rina during the film… Marcela is troubled without having a specific problem, is preoccupied without having a particular preoccupation. The family world has a centre that more and more closely resembles a black hole.

What does the presence of Rina’s absence bring with it? Definitely more than the normal process of mourning. It is a new existential dimension that occupies Marcela’s soul, a new perspective on the world and the others, which pushes her to leave the daily habits of life to one side. Memories and imagination make their entrance, and inspire her spirit to rewrite the map of her feelings. And what an entrance! Old ladies from another epoch do not come out of a photo album, but emerge directly from the untwisting curtains of her apartment, like a weird and distant bloom that unfolds from the familiar world. That is a brilliant example of what only cinema can do!

Marcela’s emotive world is changing. The members of her family slowly disappear and a gentle stranger, Nacho, appears – the friend of a friend. He has deliberately severed his ties with the past, but his planned future is suddenly refused him: he is the figure of timelessness or, better yet, of the unplanned time, which is not in contrast with the timeless flavour of Marcela’s memories and imagination. Through an editing process (Livia Serpa) that avoids sharp cuts, Maria Alché shapes a spiritual and highly cinematic time from an initially naturalist tale, where past, present and future are melted together – something that, at times, recalls Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s spiritual world.

Marcela will leave the apartment with Nacho, starting a journey of initiation towards the unknown. Just as for the scenes of memories and imagination, the improbable events of this journey seem to flow in perfect continuity with her normal life. This is one of the strengths of Alché’s film, an aspect that can make us understand Marcela’s inner transformation as a slow but irreversible evolution. Familia sumergida so becomes a convincing story of taking back one’s own identity as an individual, a story that shows how a personal legacy, even through the absence of a departed person, can work at the deepest level of our spirit.

Coming back home, and back to the “institutional” situation of a family feast, Marcela will seemingly be the same, but she will not hesitate to speak openly about the uncomfortable truth concerning the family, against the hypocrisy of a family that should always celebrate its happiness and innocence. Moreover, and independently of any possible conflict, she will have a new smile on her face, now that she has learned again to be together with her beloved insofar as she has learned again to be alone with her spirit(s).


Text: Giuseppe Di Salvatore | Audio/Video: Ruth Baettig

First published: August 25, 2018

Familia sumergida | Film | MarÍa Alché | ARG-BRA-DE-NOR 2018 | 91’ | Locarno Festival 2018, Cineasti del presente

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