Life’s hard enough without feeling like you have to keep up with nosy neighbors, but the upwardly mobile classes often go to absurd lengths just to project the image of prosperity for the world to see. At least, that’s the premise of the Chilean comedy Vacaciones en familia, which takes a familiar tale of keeping up with the Joneses to its logical extreme when an upper-class Santiago family falls on hard times and pulls out all the stops to keep the word from getting out.
Directed by Ricardo Carrasco Farfán, Vacaciones en familia follows a prototypical family of Chilean cuicos (aka “culiao y conchetumadre”) with a conspicuously British last name as they deal with social aftermath of a devastating layoff. Of course, for patriarch Juan Kelly and wife Sofía the real concern is not providing for their immediate family, but making sure a gossipy neighbor doesn’t catch wind. With vacation season in full swing, the Kellys opt out of their annual summer on the coast by pretending they’re going to Brazil instead. Then, to keep up their fib, they lock themselves in the house for several months.
Naturally, this situation is loaded with dramatic possibilities, and Rodrigo Antonio Norero’s screenplay milks it for all it has to offer. The trailer shows us the Kellys facing all sorts of ridiculous obstacles as they struggle to maintain their desperate façade, from photoshopping tropical vacation pics, to eating by candlelight, and even hiding from police in their own home. Stylistically, it’s clear that Carrasco Farfán wanted nothing more than to make a glossy, straightforward commercial comedy, though compared with its Hollywood counterparts Vacaciones en familia is operating in micro-budget territory.
Carrasco doesn’t let them get him down, though, and sticks to simple camera setups that allow the actors do the heavy lifting as they work their way through the screenplay’s comedic situations.
Vacaciones en familia premiered in Chilean theaters last year.