Written by Tracy Fuller
SXSW is one of the premier spots to showcase a new film coming to the big screen in North America. With this year’s festival having a record number of films premiering, there was a considerable buzz generating around Laura Steinel’s Family.
Family is a comedy-drama that focuses on a young teenager, Maddie (Byrn Vale) looking for acceptance and love – a borrowed concept from the timeless John Candy classic Uncle Buck. Kate (Taylor Schilling) is asked to take care of Maddie while her parents go out of town to care for a family member. Kate is by no means fit to watch over anyone’s child, much less herself.
Because Kate is so self-absorbed and unfiltered in every minute of her day, she does not have the first idea of how to relate to Maddie. When she does begin to listen to stories of being harassed at school, Kate can connect to it from her childhood. It is at that point the walls she has built around herself slowly begin to chip away. What was supposed to be one night watching Maddie becomes a full week. This takes Kate entirely out of her comfort zone at work, causing her to start neglecting details.
At work, Kate is known to be cutthroat, but now that she is distracted trying to care for Maddie, it begins to backfire. The more she leans towards the nurturing side, the more Kate’s calloused exterior starts to soften.
In the middle of Kate’s failed efforts, Maddie ends up going missing and finds her identity within the Juggalo family. During the search for Maddie, Kate learns that she has made her way to the Gathering of the Juggalos. The Gathering is a music festival which has gained some notoriety and continues to be a topic of discussion in today’s pop culture.
The series of events proposes a moral decision of what is more important to Kate: working on her career or building a relationship with Maddie. By the end of the movie, you will find yourself in the feels. This production was brilliantly put together and structured. It made me quite happy to see Steinel portray Juggalos at their core, which compliments the storyline so well as finding love and acceptance in each other.
One of the things I adore about this film is how that very same love and acceptance from the Juggalos is captured in this comedy gold classic. This movie captures the essence of family, not only by blood but also by bonds. I left the theater thankful for my friends. Furthermore, it was an incredible experience hanging out with Laura Steinel and the rest of the cast. I look forward to seeing this one again.