Nothing brings a family together like a funeral. In Three Days With The Family, Léa (Nausicaa Bonnin) returns to Spain for her grandfather’s funeral, a man we soon learn wasn’t liked by everyone. Léa has been living in France, has failed in her engineering course and plans to ditch her studies to open a bar with boyfriend Seb; that was the plan until he won’t take her calls. Léa’s parents have been separated for two years but maintain a happy façade. Her mother Joëlle (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu) seems to come and go as she pleases, though Léa is far from pleased with her. Her father Josep Maria (Eduard Fernández) is a pushover when it comes to his family and is emotionally stunted when dealing with his separation and in reacting to his daughter’s moods. One thing is for certain, the charades will end after spending three days with the family, and the truth will come out.
In director Mar Coll’s acclaimed, although disappointingly short, film, screening as part of the All by Women category at the festival, we are given a snapshot of one dysfunctional family who realise that no matter what past issues or arguments have been fought, being family means you’re in it together until the end. The film’s run time of 85 minutes limits the depth of detail we’re given about the characters and possibly limits the emotional connection one may have, but I still found the film delivered a satisfying story boosted by some solid acting. In particular the character of Léa, who at first irritated me to no end, had me battling a lump in my throat in the closing scenes. This highlights the minimalist yet powerful filmmaking of Mar Coll and it’s fitting to see her win Best New Director at the 2010 GOYA Awards.
The strength of the film was clearly the relationship between Léa and her cousins; each performance standing on its own as entirely natural, playful and meaningful. These scenes were refreshing compared to the at times heavy handed scenes between Léa and her parents, and between Josep Maria and his siblings; in particular his sister Virginia (Amalia Sancho) who is to have written a controversial novel about their father which has upset her brothers, the problem for the audience is that her story is not given enough time for us to know enough or possibly even care. Despite the very few shortcomings Three Days With The Family is an honest exploration into family expectations and relationships which rewards its audience repeatedly.