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TIFF 2023 Review: A Normal Family

When their children commit an unspeakable crime, two brothers are torn between family loyalties and being socially responsible.

A road rage incident that results in a person getting run over and an eight-year-old girl being placed into intensive care, starts things off and introduces two brothers who represent opposite sides of the moral compass.  One is a lawyer who will use unscrupulous tactics to ensure the freedom of the clients and the other a principled paediatrician.  The family ties get strained when the siblings discover an online video footage of their children committing a violent act which caused a homeless man to be sent off to the hospital in a coma and with life-threatening injuries.  There is an ongoing debate among the parents as to whether the perpetrators should be turned in to local law enforcement or be assisted in covering up the crime.

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When it comes to the plot from the opening to the closing shot certain events were foreshadowed some in a more obvious fashion than others.  This can be taken either as being extremely precise and thought out or predictable.  In truth, it’s a combination of the two.  Filmmaker Hur Jin-ho has executed a family crime thriller that at certain points telegraphs character arcs and plot points but at the same time offers a different spin on a familiar formula.  The cinematography and editing are slick and piece together like clockwork.  A real standout is the music which offers mischievous tone to the proceedings that both alleviates and accentuates the dark subject matter.

The casting is solid from young actors portraying the sociopath cousins to the parental leads.  Even though the ending is predictable it is well-earned and makes sense even upon reflection.  There are enough twists and turns to keep the viewer’s attention and have them question what is going to happen next.  The movie raises the question of the wisdom of letting children play violent video games as well as parents not making themselves emotionally and physically available as their career trumps over everything else.  Then there is also the matter of how far a parent is prepared to go to protect their children, and in some cases, the extreme reigns supreme.

The 48th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 7-17, 2023, and for more information visit    

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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