For me, the concept of paternity is a fascinating subject and is
similar to cinematic narration. For example, the birth of a child.
There is the woman, who has just become a mother and was not moments
ago, yet seems to have always been. The baby, just taken from her body,
moves directly back to her breast, knowing that it is what’s needed
to live. The father, however, observes. He tries to integrate himself
into the baby’s life. He holds the baby and tries to feel like
a father. He even waits for something to happen. He waits for fatherhood
to happen. But nothing happens. We are there, without a purpose. We
are as present as the nurse or taxi driver who comes to take the new
family home. So we take our children and we begin to speak to them,
engage them in a dialogue, rhetoric, to construct a simultaneously universal
and unique fiction between us and to create the characters of father
and child. Because, even though we may not believe it, we have to convince
our children that we are the Legacy, the Father.
Truffaut said something similar, “The most important moment in
a man’s life is the day that he discovers that his children mean
more to him than his parents.” It’s a somewhat cruel reflection,
but it really summarizes my motivations for writing Family Law.
This film is about three generations of men, three generations of Perelmans
and the love between these three men. The fathers, the sons, and the
sons of these sons. Family Law is not about the women as much.
My interest in this film is not to explore their motivations. There
is nothing misogynist or macho about this. It has to do with my idea
that as men, there are problems that we face which cannot be shared
by our partner. There are situations where our women or partners have
a passive role. They listen and comfort us in dilemmas which they cannot
necessarily become involved in because they are not part of our processes
of identity. In our search for identity we go through processes that
are not part of conjugal relationships because of the differences between
the sexes. The birth of our children is part of that relationship, but
the decay of our parents is not.
On Origin and Fiction
My reflections are, in fact, more autobiographical than the story or
characters. What I feel about paternity and the inversion of roles is
autobiographical, having been a father twice in the last three years.
With respect to the characters being lawyers, I come from a family where
everyone is a lawyer and I was a law student working alongside my father
in his study, so evidently there are some elements of my life in the
story. But I transformed it sufficiently to be able to manipulate the
story without modesty…. I read once, in some publication, how
autobiographical my movies are and I asked myself, “In which
of my films am I lying?,” because evidently I could not have lived
all those experiences.
On Family Law
In my previous film, Lost Embrace, I started to reflect on the
nature of parenthood. But perhaps because of some personal shyness or
awkwardness, I based the father-son relationship on a man contemplating
his absent father and his conflict with him. This time I have brought
father and son together. The moment when a man re-evaluates his past
and himself through his father is a moment I find fascinating in life.
It is the moment of the great parable when our parents start their natural
decay and we acknowledge the idea of being an adult.
When we as children grow older and start to experience the responsibilities
that our parents did, we often discover that our parents are different
people than we thought they were—although they were always the
same people, simply disguised as “adults.”
I find rich story material in the transition adults undergo when they
become parents themselves. Our parents are passing away and are trying
to tell us they are not who we thought they were. Our children are born
and we don’t know who they are yet. They want us to tell them
and we have neither the answer nor the language.
I really do find it odd that the ordinary and transparent world of our
(or my) everyday life hides this fabulous mystery. Luckily, cinema can
unveil even the invisible.
Despite the above, I swear the film is indeed a comedy.