‘Familia’s is the new Spanish-language drama film streaming on Netflix. Directed by Colombian-Mexican filmmaker Rodrigo García, it shows a family getting together for a meal where they all spent years beforehand. The script, co-written by Barbara Colio with the director, explores the intricacies of the family’s interpersonal dynamics. It uses an understated and intimate approach to present the cracks in their relationship. Be it through laughs or confessions, the film presents naturalistic dialogues between different generations. It stars Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Isle Salas, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Natalia, Solian, Maribel Verdu, and Brian Shortall in the central roles. Spoilers ahead.

Familia (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

What happens in ‘Familia’ on Netflix?

‘Familia’ on Netflix is a Mexican film that shows a family getting back to their idyllic olive farm for a meal. While discussing their past, present, and future, they all try to reach a common ground about a crucial decision.  The film begins with the family patriarch Leo (Daniel Giménez Cacho) working late at night at his house. He walks over to the other room to see his two daughters playing next to his wife. The next moment, there’s no one there. The film establishes how Leo still misses the old days when his family used to live together.

Leo returns to his bed to sleep next to his recent partner, Clara (Maribel Verdú). He asks her to move in with him. It shows his willingness to move forward or his fear of being alone. The following morning, we see Leo taking a table outside with a few other people. His developmentally disabled son, Benny, runs over to help out with the task. While that happens, we see Rebeca’s (Ilse Salas) family and arrive at Julia’s (Cassandra Ciangherotti) house.  Julia, who’s a writer, reveals the issues in her marriage with her husband, Tomas. Because she cheated on him, he planned not to join them for the family dinner.

Why did Julia have an affair?

Julia has been with Tomas since she was a teenager. That is probably why she sought another person and had an affair. Alas, Rebeca advises her to get a divorce if things are not working for them. Meanwhile, Mariana (Natalia Solian) drives back to their hometown with her girlfriend Monica. She is pregnant and hasn’t told her family who the father is. During the drive, she and Monica discuss their past and their anxieties. Mariana’s mother was a writer. She died six years ago due to a minor accident. With all that in mind, Monica isn’t sure how Mariana’s family will look at her arrival.

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On the other hand, Julia and Rebeca get some time to bond as sisters after a while. They also talk about Clara and share laughs while thinking about their father. Eventually, Mariana reaches home with Monica. Benny quickly recognizes her as Mariana’s girlfriend and says she looks like her other girlfriends. Leo gets a tad emotional upon seeing Mariana. They discuss whether her baby will be a boy or a girl. Later on, Rebeca’s husband arrives there with his kids. Julia’s daughter recalls an accident they saw on their way there. Meanwhile, Leo shares a personal moment with Beca’s daughter – Erica. He assures her that he will lend an ear if there is any issue in her life.

What happens before the family dinner?

Unlike with Mariana, we sense friction between Leo and Julia during their interaction. She asks him about his blood pressure. It sounds sarcastic, but you sense a bit of tense history behind it. He does not have the best interaction with Rebeca’s son – Alan, either. Anyhow, they all take the table out for the meal. While some discuss the family history, others discuss the inheritance of skills – seeing that it has been an olive farm for generations. While Julia believes she is skillful enough for farming, Leo begs to differ. His lack of trust makes her tear up a bit. She also feels bad about their disagreements about the craft of writing.

Still, they pass it under the rug and start arranging the table with the other family members. Teresa, who took care of Leo’s children when they were young, begins plating. Leo apologizes to Alan for starting off on the wrong note. Julia believes her father’s apology to be out of his usual nature. She wonders whether this has to do with something bad, like a terminal illness. Meanwhile, Benny decides to pray for the food on the table. Other members join him even if they are not used to it.

What did Leo want to tell his family members?

After beating around the bush, Leo reveals his recent discussions about an offer to sell the ranch and the house – the one his kids grew up in. It comes as a shock for everyone. They believe Leo is trying to manipulate them into agreeing through his usual approach. Beca takes her father’s secrecy personally and expresses it to him rather bluntly. It does not sit well with Leo. Meanwhile, the kids start discussing whether they are rich or not. Alan makes a point about how they are richer than the majority of the population. This comes in between the discussions of selling the farm for capital gain.

Familia (2023) Movie Ending Explained
A still from Familia (2023)

Leo makes a big deal about having to take care of the loans they took during the pandemic, along with some other financial responsibilities. He also projects his sacrificial nature, especially with how he helped all his daughters advance in their lives. His daughters understand that he is trying to guilt-shame them. They insist they should not sell the house but just the farm if need be. Then, Rebeca reveals another piece of news – she is moving to Chicago because of her new job offer. Because of their hefty salaries, she won’t need the money from the deal.

Why does Leo start shouting during the dinner?

Leo cannot handle the fact that his children are not blindly accepting his wishes. So, he erupts in anger in the middle of their meal. This probably brings back an old memory in Julia’s mind where Leo probably resorted to anger as a justifiable response. She leaves the table and starts packing her bags. While she decides to leave with her daughter immediately, Leo apologizes to her and makes her stay for longer. He then takes a more calculated approach to dealing with family matters.

After a chaotic meal and discussion, the three sisters have a chat on their own. They discuss how to handle the deal and also what happens to Benny in the future. Beca offers to take him to Chicago since she can afford to take his care. She thinks it won’t be feasible for Julia. Suddenly, Mariana gets emotional while speaking about the child’s father. Julia and Beca realize that he is a man their father’s age – who is also known to be his enemy. Mariana does not want to tell that old man about the child because she has the right to decide what happens to it.

Familia (2023) Movie Ending Explained:

The three sisters ask Clara where she would stand in the discussions about the offer of selling their ranch. She mentions Leo’s resolute nature and how it is difficult to make him see any other way. Still, she appreciates how he takes care of her. Eventually, by the evening, everyone gets out to head back to their homes. Julia and her daughter stay around while others hug each other before leaving. At night, Julia’s daughter speaks with Tomas over a video call. She reveals that the old people discussed the offer to sell the land. At the time, she ends up exposing Julia’s plan – to use the money to travel across Europe.

While driving back home, Mariana speaks with Monica about the offer. She does not think her dad will sell the ranch. Then, they chat about their future with her child. On the other hand, Beca opens up to her husband about her worries. She also mentions that she expects him to be more outspoken. Their argument ultimately leads to nowhere in specific. She thinks that their situation will get better after moving to Chicago. He thinks that the ‘Grass is always greener on the other side.’ Meaning their problems will not magically disappear just due to the change of place.

Does the family decide to sell the farm?

Leo speaks with Eva, who assists Teresa in her duties. Eva says that he reminds her of her own father. They share an emotional moment that gives them both a sense of kinship and warmth. Later on, Clara leaves after breaking up with Leo. He then speaks with Benny, who feels his sisters are almost like his aunts. That has to do with the age difference but also because they spent very little time together. Leo lives with the hope that things will get better for both. Once Benny goes to sleep, Leo walks outside the tent and imagines an encounter with his late wife, Araceli (Vicky Araico), on the ranch.

At the end of Familia, we do not see the family making any conclusive decision about selling the farm. This is because the film isn’t interested in giving a usual resolution but wants us to ponder upon its themes. It shows these different family members struggling with their emotional problems. We also see its correlation to the place they lived in together. Their strong emotional bond with the olive ranch is a crucial factor in the film. That is why the Familia ends on an ambiguous note.

Trailer:

Familia (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Letterboxd
Familia (2023) Movie Cast: Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Isle Salas, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Natalia, Solian, Maribel Verdu, Brian Shortall, Natalia Pascencia, Ricardo Selmen, Adolfo Madera, Angeles Cruz

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

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