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Review | The family portrait

  • News
  • December 01 2023
  • 4 min read

Movie : The family portrait

Director : Julia Shlenskaya



In a world flooded with visually spectacular blockbusters and action-packed escapades, “The Family Portrait” emerges as a breath of fresh air – a thought-provoking, emotionally charged psychological drama that delves deep into the human psyche, exposing the scars of psychological abuse that often go unnoticed in our society.

Directed with a keen eye for visual storytelling, “The Family Portrait” revolves around the tumultuous relationship between two sisters, Nastya and Natasha, who find themselves trapped in the web of family dynamics and psychological abuse. The film begins with an air of tension between the sisters, and as the narrative unfolds, it becomes clear that their estrangement from their mother plays a pivotal role in their discord.

The film takes a unique approach by using colours as metaphors for the emotional and psychological traits that are shaped under the oppressive influence of family and loved ones. The symbolism of these colours becomes increasingly apparent as the story progresses, highlighting the conflicting and abrasive nature of the relationships within the family. Directorial choices, such as contrasting and mismatched hues, add a layer of depth to the storytelling, emphasising the emotional turmoil experienced by the characters.

At its core, “The Family Portrait” is an exploration of the human capacity to escape from the harsh reality when it becomes too unbearable. Nastya, the central character, experiences a breaking point triggered by a message that becomes the final straw in a series of psychological blows. The film masterfully portrays her internal struggle as her psyche attempts to cope with the mounting pressure, and her vulnerability is portrayed with haunting authenticity.

The standout feature of the film is its unflinching examination of psychological abuse. Unlike physical violence, psychological abuse often lurks beneath the surface, concealed by the facade of normalcy. “The Family Portrait” brings this insidious form of abuse to the forefront, underscoring its devastating impact on everyday life. It serves as a poignant reminder that scars inflicted by words and emotional manipulation can be just as deep and lasting as physical wounds.

Through its surreal and metaphorical visual language, the film provides viewers with a glimpse into the fractured mental state of individuals who endure psychological violence. The use of dreamlike sequences and symbolic imagery enhances the audience’s understanding of the characters’ emotional turmoil, creating an immersive experience that leaves a lasting impression.

Anastasia Vasileva and Nataly Smirnova, the talented actresses who portrayed the complex sisters in “The Family Portrait,” delivered performances that were nothing short of captivating. Their on-screen chemistry and emotional depth brought the characters of Nastya and Natasha to life with remarkable authenticity. Vasileva’s portrayal of Nastya’s internal struggle and vulnerability was both haunting and moving, while Smirnova’s depiction of Natasha’s conflicting emotions and strained relationship with her sister was equally powerful. Their nuanced performances added depth and richness to the film, making the sisters’ journey through the trials of psychological abuse all the more impactful. Vasileva and Smirnova’s contributions to “The Family Portrait” are a testament to their skill as actresses and their ability to convey the complex emotions and dynamics at the heart of this thought-provoking drama.

In conclusion, “The Family Portrait” is a compelling and emotionally charged exploration of family dynamics, psychological abuse, and the power of resilience. With its evocative storytelling and striking visual metaphors, it amplifies the importance of conversations about verbal violence and psychological abuse in our society. This film is a testament to the fact that sometimes the heaviest wounds are the ones that cannot be seen, and it serves as a stark reminder that we must not underestimate the profound impact of words and manipulation on the human psyche. It’s a must-see for those who appreciate cinema that challenges the status quo and delves into the complexities of the human experience.

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