Rolling Grandma

Familia Rodante is a delightful comic foray into the dynamics of a large Argentine family travelling to a wedding


Familia Rodante
Pablo Trapero
2004, Artificial Eye
103 minutes

Reviewed by Georgina Jiménez

LATAMROB rating: ***

THIS IS THE third major film by Pablo Trapero (Mundo Grúa, El Bonaerense) which received widespread recognition for being part of the Official Selection at the Venice Film Festival in 2004.

Trapero stands at the cutting edge of a new generation of Argentine directors, known for eschewing the heavy psychological drama of the past and exploring human foibles through his lighthearted forays into family and personal relations.

Familia Rodante tells the story of Grandma Emilia (Graciana Chironi), who, on the night she becomes 84, is invited to be the main lady at her niece’s wedding.

Grandma assembles her family and, fearing the prospect of her death, her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren have no other alternative than to travel with her to the wedding, 15,000 kilometres away. Daughters Marta (Liliana Capurro) and Claudia (Ruth Dobel) duly join her with their husbands Oscar (Bernardo Forteza) and Ernesto (Carlos Resta), children and friends, and off they all set, packed in a single camper van made in 1956.

Random, funny and endearing road movie

This is another random, funny and endearing road tripper in the style of Carlos Sorín’s Bombón: El Perro, which explores the trials and tribulations of a family confined in an enclosed space. The director packs the film with beautiful music and views of the Argentine countryside.

Familia Rodante is also a perceptive analysis of dysfunctionality in a Latin American family, and lays bare the cultural underpinning of much Argentine life by demonstrating the central role of an elder such as Grandma within it.

It takes a sideswipe at the complex role played by men in familial dynamics. Trapero’s men are disconnected from their reality and the source of many problems. Even the daughter’s responsible, but gruff, husband lets down his patient wife as the plot unfolds.

Familia Rodante is another interesting departure in Argentine cinema by Trapero, favouring over the heavy undercurrents of local tradition a straightforward story that highlights more universal themes about humanity and its foibles. It belongs to a new period in Argentine cinema that has become aware of the country’s staggering size and uses this to explore the immense terrain of the human heart.

Like many of his contemporaries, Trapero uses non-professional actors, giving the film a refreshingly accurate touch as it highlights the individual flaws of the characters. We relate to these characters because their experiences, their reactions, their sentiments are ours. In short, Trapero tells us about ourselves.

Georgina Jiménez is a freelance Mexican journalist