La Familia Tortuga

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La Familia Tortuga is a movie about a fragile and low income family living in Mexico City; written and directed by Rubén Imaz Castro.  The movie follows the lives of each member of the family the eve before a special and significant day in their lives – the 1 year anniversary of the mothers’ death. There are four major characters – Ana (Luisa Pardo), the rebellious teenage daughter, Omar (José Angel Bichir), her brother who just wants everything to be like before their mother passed away, their father José (Dagoberto Gama), who stresses about their dire economic situation, and Manuel (Manuel Plata Lopez), an elderly uncle who is desperately trying to keep the family together as best he can.

Everyone in the family is avoiding their own feelings of mourning, and the film seems to get to this at an slow, turtle speed.  José is an unemployed trade unionist who, throughout the movie, has been making shady and illegal deals with people in order to make money quickly. His family doesn’t know about anything that he’s been doing, until he finally tells his son that they’re going to have to sell their house because they need money. Ana has a relationship with her boyfriend disliked by everyone in the family. She skips school to be with him, smokes weed several times a day, and plans on moving out to live with him. Omar is trying to find where he fits in life and who he is, playing soccer after school and also smoking weed & cigarettes with the other ’bad’ kids in the park cutting school. With Jose busy in his own problems,  Manuel is the one who knows how much his niece and nephew have suffered since their mother passed away, and does his best in his old age to take care after them.

The movie starts out with Manuel looking for Rosita, one of the two turtle pets the family owns (the other one is named Turquesa.) Manuel looks for the turtle in his front yard, calling her name and looking under cars and behind bushes. Turtles symbolize the earth, shelter, and the fluidity or union of  two different worlds because it is able to live both on land and in water. La Familia Tortuga tries to make a parallel between the loss of the mother, the turtle, and the hard shell each family member has created for him or herself. The movie seems to make an attempt at a fresh coming-of-age story of some sort with a twist to it. However, while the idea is a good one, it was poorly executed. There wasn’t much of a plot, background story, climax, and the end is abrupt. It left a lot for the viewer to decide for him or herself, and while that tactic can sometimes work,here it can be unsatisfying for the viewer, leaving one asking questions that would have better been answered in the film.

Overall, it was an accurate representation of the lives of family members after something tragic has happened in their lives, how they’re trying to cope with their loss and their emotions and the different outlets (or lack thereof) they take to release their pain or anger.