Laura Steinel’s Family seamlessly captures the essence of today’s modern family in an honest, authentic manner. In this age of Fortnite and smartphones, very few releases in recent years have captured the detachment most middle school/high school kids feel these days. It seems Kids are faced with a growing identity crisis. They want that feeling of being accepted but aren’t sure what group will welcome them for who they are. Steinel’s narrative addresses this beautifully. Maddie (played to perfection by Bryn Vale) is being forced to conform to her mother’s (played by Allison Tolman) norms because she fears how kids will treat her if she acts like herself. The result is a middle school child who is more of a drifter than being attached to any one social group.
Maddie is immediately drawn to her aunt Kate (played by Taylor Schilling) because she’s the first adult who listens to her. Kate has spent most of her life not caring about others and working her way up the career ladder. While she seems to be a whiz in the board-room, Kate is incompetent at raising anything (let alone a child). When she’s called upon to watch her niece, it quickly becomes a comedy of errors.
So how do the Juggalos play a role in Family? Well, they thrive on the idea of being an individual and being accepted for who you are. When Maddie makes friends with a boy, who is into this way of life it naturally sucks her in because it gives exactly what she graves. They don’t care if she’s into making nature weapons and wearing capes (that’s probably the least of crazy thing they’ve seen in weeks). However, Maddie and Kate are part of a town where appearance is everything and conforming is a must.
Schilling’s performance is layered and quite outstanding. Family is an incredibly relatable film and could lead to some critical dialogue going on at home.