© Koch Films/24 Bilder

Das Gesetz der Familie (Trespass Against Us)
U.K. 2016

Opening 3 Aug 2017

Directed by: Adam Smith
Writing credits: Alastair Siddons
Principal actors: Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Lyndsey Marshal, Georgie Smith, Rory Kinnear

Chad Cutler (Fassbender) lives in a trailer illegally parked on a field with other trailers and tents – home to a three-generation extended family of Cutlers. He and his wife Kelly (Marshal) have an eight-year-old son Tyson (Georgie Smith) and a younger daughter Mini (Kacie Anderson). Head of the clan is Chad’s father Colby (Gleeson), who rules with an iron hand. He is a real gangster, but has a warm spot for his grandson Tyson and wishes to influence his development, in order for him to take over the leadership someday – something which would logically fall to Chad, however, he seems no longer to be dependable in his goals. Although Chad is uneducated, he is caught between the desire to raise his children outside the rules of society as he was, but also to follow Kate’s wishes and send them to school, which includes homework, school uniform, and schedules. Perhaps then Tyson could someday avoid the chaos of the outlaw life, including financial insecurity. As a result Tyson can read and write, contrary to his father. Chad seldom refers to his absent brother and then only to mention that he is in jail. They should all be in jail, considering they earn their livelihood by breaking into rich people’s houses, stealing or destroying everything, and thening break traffic regulations on the run. At least the local police would love to see them put away, but all attempts have failed so far.

Director Adam Smith first had a successful career making music videos and then several TV series, and a documentary (Don’t Think, 2012). This, his first full-length feature film, is set in Gloucestershire, England, and everyone speaks the local dialect. (Subtitles might be a suggestion, as even a native English-speaker like myself could not understand everything.) Smith considers this story to be universal and says, “Everyone is raised with a certain list of values and possibilities. As a result, one must live with the fear of doing something of which parents do not approve. If one grows up in such an isolated, tight community as Chad did, then the rest of the world is a very unfamiliar place and it’s difficult to find one’s place there.”  Interesting is the connection to religion which Colby seems to have. Not only does he wear a cross on a chain around his neck, his speech refers to Biblical phrases such as (in the title) “thou shalt not trespass ….,” “love thy neighbor…” or “hell hath no fury….”  The viewer recognizes Chad’s dilemma, but probably has no solution in mind. Does Adam Smith? Especially good is young Georgie Smith (no relation) who plays Tyson. This would be an excellent film to watch and discuss with a class of students. (Becky Tan)

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