TIFF 2020: “The Ties”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We have seen enough films that tell the stories of happy and unhappy marriages. Each take would capture certain aspects of life for us to learn with the help of the silver screen. We don’t have to read books to realize that marriage is a tough union of two souls that works only if they both are committed to it. But what if one of them is tormented long enough such that they get used to the pain, not realizing that it creates a swamp which sucks into it everyone who are involved.

“The Ties” is an intelligent family drama that takes place over a few decades. It starts in Naples in the 1980s when Aldo, with a wife and three kids, confesses to his wife of adultery. Vanda’s reaction is understandable as she wants to know whether it was just an affair or is he in love with someone else. As she gets an answer she is not pleased with, it creates a chain of events that literally involves everyone in the midst of a family conflict, including the children, leaving everyone without a healthy solution.

Vanda does her best to raise Aldo’s children. She patiently awaits for him at home while he travels to Rome for work every day. As soon as the children go to sleep, Aldo tells Vanda everything. As that revelation shocks Vanda, she literally does everything possible to have Aldo return back to her. In the meantime, we meet Lidia, Aldo’s new lover, and it seems that their relationship is genuine, pure and transparent.

Then, we are taken to the future where an elderly married couple navigate through their past, discuss their tormented marriage, and whether if someone at some point will call it quits. All these unfold in a dramatic back-and-forth manner, allowing the viewer to thoroughly absorb the marriage of two people and understand who they are, what went wrong, and why, after so many years, they have to end up with broken dreams.

The beauty of “The Ties” is in its metaphorical approach of describing family ties. The ties are not about having a wife or husband, children and grandchildren. It is the connection between the two no newly added family members can provide. Adapted from Domenico Starnone’s novel, Daniele Luchetti’s “The Ties” gives you everything you need to know to avoid an unhealthy and destructive marriage by not staying in it if it poisons not only adults, but kids too.

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