Family Affairs [Der Nachname] — German Film Festival 2023

Review by John P. Harvey.

The events of Family Affairs follow some years after those of the earlier comedy hit How About Adolf? [Der Vorname], with the same characters colliding in new ways.  You’re not at all disadvantaged, though, if you haven’t seen the earlier film, to which one character makes a single brief reference.

The setup for Family Affairs is a family reunion for an announcement — one that will set everybody off.  Matriarch Dorothea (Iris Berben) has two children by birth: a daughter, Elisabeth (Caroline Peters), married to the very intense Stephan (Christoph Maria Herbst); and a son, Thomas (Florian David Fitz), whose partner is Anna (Janina Uhse).

Elisabeth and Thomas also have an adoptive brother, René (Justus von Dohnányi), who, to their horror, has become their mother’s lover.  The siblings just can’t wait to learn what surprise their mother has in store for them when they and their partners arrive on the island where Dorothea and René have been enjoying conjugal bliss.  But what they learn about Dorothea and René pales beside what all four arrivals learn about one another — in complete confidence — and about the vintner, Lucia (Elena Sancho), whom Dorothea and René have hired.

With natural acting and stimulating settings, revelations and betrayals galore make the interactions of the six family members as hilariously unseemly as in the earlier movie, and it’s a safe bet that they’ll quickly claim your affections.

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