“In films it is too seldom realistically depicted what happens within the walls of our homes”
‘Family Time’ begins with a door that keeps on opening to let its characters into a house surrounded by nature that will be the setting of much of the film, and welcomes the audience into a small world that is portrayed with fierce tenderness and surprising rigour. In the feature film debut of Finnish director Tia Kouvo, three generations come together for the Christmas holidays and re-enact a seasonal ritual of traditions, conversations and household chores.
These elements would seem to indicate the return of the Nordic family drama, but this film is more of a “comédie humaine” that opts instead for an analysis of behaviour, relationships and private spaces that is both ironic and harrowing. In between meals around the table, anecdotes, TV programmes and saunas, there are no secrets or traumas to be revealed, but above all gestures to observe and silences to interpret. The film becomes an elegy on the ordinary, supported by a screenplay that is at its most expressive when reducing language to a minimum or dispensing entirely with verbalising or even “writing” anything that cannot be said or that characters do not know how to say.
‘Happy time’ was programmed in the Encounters section of the last Berlinale.