It’s never a good sign when a dark comedy emphasizes the presence of a cat right from the gate, since the rules of edginess require that something bad happen to it. Hurting dogs is still frowned upon in all cinematic corners, of course, but their feline betters remain fair game. While a domestic cat figures prominently in Cristián Jiménez and Alicia Scherson’s Vida de Familia (Family Life) — even appearing in the titles, in silhouette form — the directors thankfully go for more subtle shocks. Needing someone to both house- and cat-sit during a three-month trip abroad, wealthy but unhappy couple Bruno (Cristián Carvajal) and Consuelo (Blanca Lewin) hire Bruno’s moody slacker of a second cousin Martín (Jorge Becker), who wastes no time breaking every boundary in their absence.
When the cat goes missing, Martín’s search for it — and, to his credit, he does search for it — leads him into an intense love affair with single mother Pachi (Gabriela Arancibia) that includes but is not limited to unspeakable acts visited upon the absent family’s Nutella supply. Stubbornly refusing to choose a hero or even a single point of view, Vida de Familia contemplates which side is indeed greener — and if happiness is truly a thing. But even if it isn’t, at least the cat is fine.
Vida de Familia (Family Life)
Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.