Family Law

"Very Good"

Family Law Review


It's always been said that man is not a real man until he has a child. One day you're the star of your own life and you're just living it and then suddenly, you're a supporting character. As a response to the birth of his own son, Argentinean director Daniel Burman has crafted a delicate little film about a bumbling lawyer and teacher who is being thrust into adulthood while his father is preparing for his graceful bow.

Ariel Perelman (Daniel Hendler) has made a good, meandering life for himself. He teaches law while also practicing it in a central court. In the marble hallways and staircases of the courthouse, it is Ariel's father, Perelman Sr. (a sublime Arturo Goetz), who has become a legend of sorts. Perelman Sr.'s clients sometimes pay for his services in meals or services, and he's flirty enough to be able to cut in the morning file line without anyone blinking.

Everything changes, quite quickly. Perelman Jr. marries Sandra (Julieta Diaz), a student that he thought he had no chance with, and they immediately have a child, Gaston (Eloy Burman, the director's son). It is at the same time that Perelman Sr. starts becoming more philosophical with his son, as well as being more demanding of time with his quietly dopey son. Of course, Perelman Jr. doesn't quite understand why his father is acting like that, but it's rather obvious to anyone watching.

Fatherhood, as Burman has said, is a rather thankless job in long stretches; the immediate attachment to the mother is so overwhelming that the father becomes part of the outset. It's a job of constant work, and Perelman Jr., though not a lazy man, is a very goofy man. Burman, who has only had one other film released in the U.S., comes to the idea of fatherhood with a rather plain, but still strangely insightful style. Comparisons to Woody Allen and James L. Brooks will no doubt be made, and rightly so since he shares their interest in father figures and family dynamics. However, Allen is too cynical and Brooks is too expansive to fit in the confines of what Burman is doing here; his themes are clear cut and his points ring true from the first bell.

Hendler, who paired with Burman in 2004's Lost Embrace, breathes sincere life into Perelman Jr., a character who could have easily been just another whoops-I-brought-our-kid-to-the-strip-club blundering buffoon. Instead, we see Perelman Jr. as absent-minded perhaps, but also as a man with genuine love for his family and his father. Quoting Francois Truffaut, Burman expresses that one of the most important moments in a man's life is when he realizes his children are more important than his parents. That is exactly what is going on in Family Law: the transference of emotional weight between generations, stocked well with all its melodramatic complications. Although Burman's youthful follies are evident, he also seems to have that rare ability to infuse melodrama with purpose and honesty. It's a trait I'm sure he got, at least partially, from his dad.

Aka Derecho de familia.

I think I had an accident.



Family Law

Facts and Figures

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 23rd March 2006

Distributed by: IFC First Take

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Fresh: 30 Rotten: 11

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Daniel Burman

Producer: Diego Dubcovsky, Marc Sillam, José María Morales

Starring: as Ariel Perelman, Arturo Goetz as Bernardo Perelman, Eloy Burman as Gastón Perelman, Julieta Diaz as Sandra, Adriana Aizemberg as Norita

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