My Happy Family Film Review :
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Tbilisi, Georgia, 2016: In a patriarchal society, an ordinary Georgian family lives with three generations under one roof. All are shocked when 52-year-old Manana decides to move out from her parents’ home and live alone. Without her family and her husband, a journey into the unknown begins.
Even before the film’s initial fade-in, Manana has been silently entertaining the notion of moving away. The first scene follows her on a tour of the apartment where she will eventually move alone, much to the utter bewilderment of her family. Time and again, Manana is asked whether she had been struck by her husband, Soso (Merab Ninidze). Surely she must’ve been hurt in order for such drastic measures to be taken. “I won’t explain it to anyone,” insists Manana, while assuring them that she was not a victim of violence. Perhaps she truly believes this to be the case, since the abuse she has suffered has been of a much more insidious variety.
Though her disapproving loved ones insist that their actions are made out of love, they stem from a deep-seated need for control. Manana is expected to suppress her own needs even while she’s being celebrated on her birthday. So determined is Soso to keep up the strained image of his family’s contentment that he invites numerous guests to her birthday party, despite the fact that his wife had explicitly asked for a quiet evening at home. As soon as crowds stream through the door, Manana snaps on the cheery façade of a dutiful host until they are no longer in view, allowing her face to collapse in exhaustion.
This endless night turns out to be the final straw, though it’s not until she returns to her day job as a teacher that she acquires the bravery to act on her desires. When she asks a 17-year-old student, Tatia (Lika Babluani), why she has missed so many classes, the young woman informs her that she was divorcing her husband. It wasn’t a result of abuse—they simply wanted different things—but Tatia cautions Manana that as soon as she makes up her mind about what she wants in life, she must commit to that decision. Otherwise, she will forever remain a prisoner. It’s a sublime instance of a student offering her teacher a much-needed lesson that never feels patronizing, and that is in part due to the inspired casting of Babluani.