“Family is everywhere. It’s not about who you are, or where you come from, it’s about respect”.
Laura Steinel’s debut feature, FAMILY, starring Taylor Schilling, has heart and is a reminder that family can be found in all different forms. Kate Stone (Taylor Schilling) is a workaholic who has no social skills, no friends, and hasn’t seen her family in years. When her brother calls and begs her to watch her niece Maddie (Bryn Vale), Kate agrees to do it for one night. But one night turns into a week, and we see Kate learn just how important family is…even when it’s not what you expected.
Maddie is an outcast. She gets bullied at school, doesn’t have any friends, and doesn’t feel like she fits in anywhere, until Kate shows up, and gives her a little bit of freedom to be herself. Admittedly it’s because Kate is too irresponsible to watch her, but sometimes that’s what kids need, to be out from under the constant pressure of their parents and teachers so as to just have a minute to discover what they like and who they are.
In this case, Maddie makes friends with a boy named Dennis, aka “Baby Joker”. He’s a Juggalo and introduces her to a world full of people who don’t care if you’re “different” or a “freak”, in fact, they celebrate it. When Maddie skips out on ballet to go to the Gathering, Kate, along with Maddie’s parents, learn that just because someone looks different, acts different, or seems like a freak…that doesn’t make them bad, and that family can be found in the most unexpected places.
At its core, this movie has two lessons going on. The first is about how important family is, and that even if yours isn’t perfect, or you have to make yourself a new one, you can still find love and acceptance. The second is about being an outcast. At first, you think that Maddie is the outcast, but what we learn is that most people feel like they don’t fit in. Whether they’re a hedge fund manager, a karate teacher, or a Juggalo. But just because you aren’t “perfect,” or “normal”, that doesn’t make you wrong. It just makes you different, and different isn’t all that bad. You just have to find your tribe, your family, and you’ll be ok.
The Film Arcade will release FAMILY in theaters on April 19.