Family Life



Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 80%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 87%
IMDb Rating 7.6 10 1


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November 4, 2021



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995.11 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
108 min
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1.8 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
108 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by ElMaruecan82 8 / 10 / 10

"Families, I hate you!"

This quote from André Gide would make a terrific subtitle to "Family Life", the harrowing portrayal of an existentially confused girl and her two conservative parents. The film is based on one of Wednesday Plays' most remembered episodes "In Two Minds" also directed by Ken Loach and written by David Mercer and dealing with a girl named Kate, living under the constant psychological pressuring of her parents and after a forced abortion, let her mind drift toward schizophrenia. The film version starring Sandy Ratcliff is clearly a reworking on the same subject but also an improvement. For one thing, I think the use of color makes the difference, while the original was in black-and-white and could effectively convey the documentary-like aspect especially with the constant reliance on interviews, it gave a rather nightmarish, almost horror-like tone like one of these archive footage or stolen image from medical centers, as unsettling as that video where scientists test the effect of LSD on a poor cat. It was still a powerful film and I couldn't believe Darren Aronofsky didn't base Sara's demise in "Requiem for a Dream" from the fate of poor Kate (played by Anna Cropper). But "Family Life" is much closer to Cassavetes' "A Woman Under the Influence" (and Janice is indeed under the influence) and getting back to colors, the beige and pastel tones create a startling contrast between Janice's state and the dullness of the environment she was brought up in, a bourgeois little house whose conformity is too clean to fool us. It's indeed an ordinary environment, not the kind that would lead to any trauma or alienation but Loach deliberately emphasizes the normality to demonstrate how problematic it was, if not for the parents but for Janice or her generation. The film opens with one of Loach's trademark, Janice (Sandy Raitcliff in her debut) talks a little about herself to her psychiatrist Dr. Donaldson (Michael Riddall). She's a pretty 19-year-old girl, with a boyfriend named Tim (Malcolm Tierney) and again it's less in the things she say than the way she does or what she doesn't say that we can have our few glimpses on her emotional troubles. The editing is uncertain since we never really tell when it's a flashback or not but the first part clearly establishes the confusion within her mind and the causes of her troubles: an abortion she didn't want to have. From her parents' reaction we can see the tragic paradox, they ask her to behave responsibly but they treat her as an irresponsible girl who can't make up her mind. The point of Loach is to show that sometimes madness isn't something you're born with but with the reaction to an education that forces you to behave in a way that contradicts your own prospects in life, leading you to a point where you simply don't know where to go. The father is played by Bill Dean and the mother by Grace Cave and the tragedy is less in their constant blaming of Jan's behavior but the fact that they don't realize the 'gaslighting' effect on her already fragile psyche. Mrs. Baildon is certainly the most memorable character, so conservative it's scary, when she visits the doctor she deplores that his secretary calls his by his first name, which should be the least of her concerns. When the father is asked to talk about sex, he eludes the question in a way that confirms this isn't exactly the cement of his marriage. In a way, he did also conform to his wife's values. Taken separately, the parents become more approachable, almost as fragile as their daughter, in fact it's only when they're together that they form that 'two-headed' monster that Jan can't fight alone, leading her to the only viable solution: medical treatment. I didn't expect much from the medical world after witnessing how disastrous the welfare system worked in "Cathy Come Home" and indeed, the remedy proved even worse than the disease. Yet the film's most brilliant moment came from a simple dinner scene with Janice's sister (Hilary Martin) and the verbal escalation that made me think of Ingmar Bergman's "Scenes from a Marriage". The scene isn't just magnificently directed and edited with that crescendo leading to the inevitable clash but also because it for once puts the parents in the accused box and for once they have to answer for their behavior. The mother tries to get away with it by proposing some jelly to her granddaughters and the father doesn't answer the content but the tone, asking for more respect because as a father, he's earned it. These usual rhetorical tricks highlight the sad reality of this family: when parents are too blind to see the disastrous effects of their education, any questioning would lead to a dialogue of the deaf. Overall, the directing is forceful and Loach so at ease with his cinema-verité roots that some bits of surrealism were unneeded (like the blue painting scene). The realism culminates dramatically with the electroshock and this unforgettable conclusion where Janice is exposed to the medical students in an amphitheater like in a freak show. The film cuts abruptly as if the point was already made but maybe it should have emulated "In Two Minds" with the question sessions during the ending credits (I find the original ending more affecting). "Family Life" invites us to question the crucial role of parenting in the way it shapes children's adulthood, parenting shouldn't be moulding but understanding. Generation gap is a reality that can't be dismissed and there are many sequences showing the youth of the 70s, long-haired rebels without a cause and I guess the point is to show that these kids live in a present and their parents try to educate them with values inherited from the past, consider the social evolution from the 20s to the 70s and you'll get the core of that lose-lose situation and incidentally, Janice's tragedy.

Reviewed by sol- 10 / 10 / 10

Who's making this code of living?

Forced by her parents to abort her unborn child, a teenager suffers a nervous breakdown and is taken to a psychiatrist, but the effectiveness is limited as her parents refuse to accept blame in this unpleasant yet encapsulating human drama from Ken Loach. With a cast of non-professional and first time actors, Loach manages to elicit some very down-to-earth performances and there are several memorable moments throughout as the girl struggles to cop with her loss. At one point, she draws a replacement child on her stomach with tears coming out of its eyes; at another point, she takes to deliriously spray-painting plants and trees blue as a form of expression. The film loses focus at times though with side scenes in which the hospital staff debate whether her psychiatrist's unconventional approach to therapy is worthwhile. The dialogue is also a tad problematic as the psychiatrist tends to lecture the parents at length, however, the girl's mother and father are given several great lines, most notably a flippant "who's making this code of living?" in regards to 1970s permissiveness. Other memorable quotes include "everyone's a bit peculiar" and "control is the answer" as the girl tries to ascertain whether she knows best or her parents do. This in turn is where the key strength of the film lies: the struggle of a youth to become independent when all she has ever known is dependency on her parents.

Reviewed by Red-125 10 / 10 / 10

A powerful, but discouraging, movie about mental health.

Family Life (1971) was directed by Ken Loach. The film stars Sandy Ratcliff as Janice Baildon. Janice is a young woman who has some emotional problems. She's standing at the brink of a long slide downwards. Briefly, a caring physician intervenes, but after that she's on her own. There are no real villains in this movie, in the sense of people who know what they're doing is wrong, and do it anyway. Everyone--her parents, her psychiatrists--are convinced that what they are doing is right. That is the paradox of this film--well-meaning people are hurting Janice without recognizing what they are doing. Sadly, almost 50 years later, psychiatry hasn't made that much progress. True, there are many new medications, and there are many new non-medication approaches, but there hasn't been a real breakthrough. People like Janice might find themselves in the same situation, with the same bad consequences. We saw this film on the small screen, where it worked well. The movie has a very strong IMDb rating of7.7. I think it's even better than that.

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