The second half of The Perfect Family is a feel-good antidote to the first, lamer half. Stick-figure characters dominate the early scenes, but all undergo unlikely personality transplants, some morphing from clichés of middle-class crudeness and ignorance to enlightened intelligence, and others from aloof and disconnected wealth to grounded, sympathetic decency. The transformations aren't believable, but at least the people we have before us at the film's end are mostly appealing.
Lucia, played by the luminous Belen Rueda, starts as a critical, controlling, emotionless automaton as she knee-jerk recoils at the coarse ways of her in-laws-to-be. When no longer shackled to that preposterous character, Rueda glows, now embodying the new Lucia, a picture of acceptance, warmth, passion, and understanding. All it took, the filmmakers seem to suggest, was having an affair and cleaning a filthy toilet. Lucia seems far warmer and happier as a working woman than as a privileged housewife and mom, and it's catching. Eventually her family and in-laws change, too, and come together in peace and appreciation. It's not where the movie seemed to be taking us at the start, but it's good that it got us there.