Immersed Family (Familia sumergida)
Woozy, beguiling, tactile, Immersed Family (Familia sumergida) is a sumptuous, disquieting film from María Alché. It’s perhaps cheap to compare it to Lucrecia Martel’s Zama from earlier this year, but the movie similarly evokes the dislocation after loss, the phantasmagoria wrought by grief, the permanent state of anticipation. Dreams and hallucinations wrestle with memory – it’s impossible to discern between them.
Marcela (Mercedes Morán) grieves for her sister. Her world shifts imperceptibly, then drastically. Her house is not hers. Her husband (Marcelo Subiotto) is unfamiliar. Her children seem out of joint. In her daughter’s friend Nacho (Diego Velazquez) she finds a strange outlet: he’s a strange child. He encourages her into a different realm, one infused by unnerving conversations with deceased or ulterior relatives. They cackle, admonish, hold court.
Familia sumergida consumes its subjects. Performance and pretence drive Marcela’s actions: she is a born actor and mimic, a silhouette shape shifting into novel forms. Voices go out of pitch; masks become commonplace. Music promotes unease. Nobody seems right, but nobody is disembodied. Clearing out a home becomes a process in which materials take on greater solidity and meaningful substance. The curtains are caressed.
One family postmortem stands apart: brother and sister debate on the nature of their parents’ relationship. Were they happy? Was she happy? Do we just have good and bad days? It pierces a potent miasma brewing in the lounge. Through the smog, the debate is hotly contested and punishingly lucid.
The intelligence of this work is almost inaudible and hard to articulate. The performances are exquisitely natural in such an absurd creation. Haze induces an irresistible narcolepsy. We view so much through slanted openings, through misted windows. The mystery doesn’t irritate; it’s made tangible and acceptable. It must be in the curtains – not just in the pattern but in their movement.
Immersed Family (Familia sumergida) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Locarno Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Locarno Film Festival website here.