Last updated on February 24, 2023
A film by Lila Avilés
With Naíma Sentíes, Monserrat Marañon, Marisol Gasé, Saori Gurza, Teresita Sánchez
In a large house, friends and family meet for a dual ritual: it is the birthday of young father and painter Tona, but also a farewell ceremony. A humanist miniature with a twin soul: spontaneous and frenetic, archaic and spiritual.
Our film review 1: **** – Critic will be published soon
Our film review 2: **
Totem is one of those few films that focuses on a particular moment, a pivotal suspended time, which summons a past, a present and a future all at once. It does so by focusing on a young girl’s view of her family as they prepare to celebrate her father’s birthday, for what could also be his last birthday and a farewell meal. Thus, the young girl opens her eyes to a situation she senses, but also observes how the situation affects and shakes the whole family. The past, at first nebulous, gradually invites itself through conversations, mostly prosaic, but also through the simple décor, the way of life of this family in a large house where the grandfather, obliged to use a specific microphone to make up for the deficiency of his vocal cords, continues to exercise, in a rather incongruous way for the spectator who discovers him by surprise, his profession of psychologist. The moment may seem serious – will the father’s cancer be cured? It could have been the central point of the film – but where cinema often examines family meals to reveal what fragments a family, Totem aims rather to highlight the union of the family, the goodness, the will to continue to live a little as if nothing had happened. The film moves us because we imagine the emotions and doubts that the young girl goes through in front of this form of ceremony that is organized in front of her, in front of this moment that she dreads when her father could leave the common house, as the grandmother had done earlier. An atmospheric film, Totem will not reveal all its secrets, such as the precise nature of the illness or the diagnosis, nor will it necessarily try to evade the various possibilities, starting with what fate has in store for the father after this anniversary, thus conferring on him a form of universality; this father, who seems to be loved by all those close to him, is like a totem; he symbolizes all those close to him whom we have loved, whom we love, and who are fighting against an illness
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