Family Party (Germany)
In German with English subtitles.
Painful confrontations at formal family celebrations have figured prominently in a number of European films, perhaps most memorably in the 1998 Danish film The Celebration.
The latest entry to join the list is Lars Kraume's Family Party (Familienfest).
In the brisk ensemble domestic drama, a German family gathers for the 70th birthday of their patriarch Hannes (Günther Maria Halmer), a world-renowned pianist.
However, each of his three sons have an agenda of their own.
His son Gregor (Marc Hosemann), who is somewhat sympathetic to his father's askew sensibilities, is in urgent need of money to pay off a shady debt.
Central figure Max (Lars Eidinger) has a medical condition that he takes some time to divulge.
Unfortunately, Hannes, who has a history of extramarital affairs and being abusive to his family, won't relinquish his asshole behaviour.
In particular, he repeatedly skewers his gay son Frederik (Barnaby Metschurat), who wants to adopt a child with his partner Vincent (Daniel Krauss), with homophobic jabs.
When Max's date Jenny (Jördis Triebel) defends Frederik at the dinner table, latent tensions erupt—between father and sons, and between Hannes' long-suffering wife (Michaela May) and his alcoholic ex-wife (Hannelmore Elsner).
Although the staginess of the outbursts teeter into melodrama, the film does reveal the price that the family has paid for their father's inability to express anything other than anger and contempt.
The spirited performances and pacing keep things moving along at an engaging clip, with little lag. While the film doesn't necessarily break new ground when it comes to the universal theme of familial conflict, it does provide an ever-relevant reminder to express the important things to your loved ones before it's too late to benefit the ones who really need to hear it.
Family Party screens as part of the European Union Film Festival at the Cinematheque on Friday (November 25) at 6:30 p.m.