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Family review: A mirror to how sexual predators can be ‘family’ and why victims’ loved ones protect them

Family movie review: Don Palathara's film, which delves into the subject that’s shoved under the carpet often, takes a sensitive look at it to show the horrifying truths and effects of paedophilia

Family review: A mirror to how sexual predators can be ‘family’ and why victims’ loved ones protect them
Vinay Forrt and Nilja K Baby in a still from Family

Last Updated: 03.49 PM, Feb 22, 2024


Family story: Sony (Vinay Forrt) is a popular youngster in the neighbourhood who tutors young children, helps those in need, works with the church, offers career advice to young men and does all things that earn one a reputable name in the society. The clean image gives him the space and ease to do a lot more as well.

Family review: Acknowledging the existence of child sexual abuse in itself is a recent phenomenon in our society and that’s also why the movies handling the issue are few and far between. There are numerous statistics, which show that most often the perpetrators aren’t scary figures in dark alleys, but a popular and outwardly-gentle family member, a doting neighbour, elderly friends or even acquaintances whom the victims’ loved ones trust.

Malayalam director Don Palathara’s Vinay Forrt-starrer Family holds a mirror to this truth – how naïve and trusting parents entrust children with abusers and how even those who speak up are silenced through the mechanics of the ‘family’ institution.

Sony (Vinay Forrt) is a teacher trainee and gives tuition classes to children. The girls and boys around him are often not comfortable in his presence, but their parents trust him and even ask him for various favours to handle their change in behaviour and educational requirements. Parallelly, there is a leopard prowling around the village, preying on various animals in the neighbourhood and occasionally, granting a glimpse to the local people. But is the animal the worst predator around?


Right from the first scene of the film, Don throws subtle-yet-noticeable clues on what’s going on in the lives of the simple, unassuming people on screen. While at times this is showcased through a long and disturbing gaze, an Animal Planet voice over, a news broadcast in the background or through simple remarks, the makers also try to show how blatantly unaware even a family member can be despite being a door-less wall away from the abuse.

For viewers who have their own similar bitter experiences, it will surely take no time to spot the ‘predator traits’, narcissism or even blissful ignorance of toxic characters on screen. For the rest, a mindful watching of this important film can teach the need for having one’s antenna up rather than merely trusting known faces around children or even yourself. The movie also effectively portrays how a collective silence, often forced by religion, encourages predators to easily thrive among us.

A still from Family
A still from Family

Vinay deserves to be lauded for taking up a character that not every actor would be comfortable to portray or be able to pull off convincingly. The other actors on frame with him, especially children, have also done justice to their roles showing the anger, bitterness, trauma, cluelessness and helplessness. It shows how families look the other way when these matters are brought to fore, at least by an alert few.

Family, which delves into the subject that’s shoved under the carpet often, sensitively takes a close look at it, showing the horrifying truths and effects of paedophilia with maximum effect. Slowly yet steadily, its message can settle over mindful audiences like a storm cloud.

A still from Family
A still from Family

The last scene of Family realistically shows how things get easy for abusers under our current system and how we actually help them lay their hands over more and more victims.

Family verdict: The film can be a gruelling watch, but it is also a necessary film that delivers a message to discerning audiences that requires our families to start sorely-needed conversations rather than hide under the convenient clout of silence.

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