IT MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS OF LA MIF!
There are so many surprises during festivals, it’s difficult for one to make a selection of films to watch. One that you could easily miss is La MIF, and you’d probably resent yourself after, if this Swiss jewel was not part of your personal lineup. We are drawn to a facility where young women from different backgrounds are being taken care off by social workers, after suffering from all types of violence from their families or acquaintances. An incident with one of them triggers a chain reaction of disruptive actions between the girls and their caretakers. As we watch their personal stories unfold through a chapterized format, we begin to understand how these young women deal with life, adolescence and the abscence of paternal figures in their daily routines.
La MIF is one of the best drama exercises of the year so far, bringing together a wide range of different characters that are explored through many creative backgrounds, and providing a sense of reality so intense that we easily become attached to it. These characters are not there because they are lovable or appealing to the masses, they are there because they feel real and can easily be related to our modern society. Although some are more developed than others – and being so many characters, an obvious selection needed to be made – director Fred Baillif masterfully is able to gather the deepest and most interesting aspects of each one of them, creating dense and rich storytelling surrounding their personalities, traumas and ambitions. The cast is extraordinary and diversity is the main focus here. By allowing the actors to work without emotional restrains, La MIF will definitely touch the audience in a way that feels authentic and relevant.
Although we are lead through the lives of the young girls, with all their problematic upbringings and hormonal bursts, we also meet the caretakers that watch over them and try to give the best advice possible so that these girls may have a brighter future ahead. It is not an easy job, and leading the team is actress Claudia Grob, who portrays Lora, the headchief of the caretakers division. The way Baillif constructs the narrative around this very special character is absolutely astounding.
There are no heroes or villains in La MIF; only human beings trying to do the best they can for one another, despite their age disparity, and the roles they play in each other’s lives. These caretakers need to draw a line between being professionals and “adoptive parents” to these girls. What does it take to be a good social worker? This is a question that La MIF answers in the most brilliant and curious way. As we begin to know the reasons and motivations that drive the characters, we feel compelled to understand more from them rather than simply judge them for their actions. In doing so, Baillif can easily circulate between the hardships of being a guardian, and the moral complexities of assuming a parental position whenever necessary.
La MIF, slang to “The Family” or “The FAM” is more than a character story, it is, most definitely, a human story; filled with intense and complex characters and storytelling. It is also an essential approach to a reality not often portrayed on film, revealing the amazing ability of a talented director and screenwriter to understand the branch of social studies and creating a narrative that feels close to us. By letting the characters speak for themselves rather than restrain their capabilities, La MIF will make audiences reflect on the important mission of social services and its role in protecting the most vulnerable from further horrors and traumatic experiences. Fred Baillif has created a rich narrative feature that is filled with real human emotion and complex situations that will stick to the public’s brain and heart for years to come.
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Title: The FAM
Original Title: La MIF
Director: Fred Baillif
Cast: Claudia Grob, Amélie Tonsi, Anaïs Uldry, Amandine Golay, Kassia Da Costa, Joyce Ndayisenga, Charlie Areddy, Sara Tulu.
Duration: 112 min.