Tótem Movie Review 2024: A Heartfelt Journey of Anticipatory

Tótem Movie Review 2024

Welcome to our review of “Tótem,” the 2024 movie directed by Lila Avilés. In this article, we will delve into the captivating story of “Tótem” and explore its themes, characters, and emotional depth. Join us as we take a closer look at this heartfelt journey of anticipatory grief.

A Day in the Life of Sol and Her Family

“Tótem” follows the story of Sol (Naíma Sentíes), a seven-year-old girl, and her family as they prepare for a birthday party for Sol’s sick father, Tona (Mateo Garcia).

The film starts with a touching scene where Sol and her mother engage in a superstition, holding their breath and making a wish while driving across a bridge. Sol wishes for her father to live, while her mother focuses on the road ahead. This simple moment sets the tone for the emotional journey that lies ahead.

The Authenticity of Familial Nostalgia

As the family prepares for the party, chaos ensues. Tona rests in the bedroom while his sisters and nieces scramble around the house, baking cakes and getting ready.

The familiar familial nostalgia is palpable as conversations flow between bickering, gossip, and catching up. It’s these everyday interactions that make the film feel close to home, as if we are watching a real family preparing for a celebration.

Sweeping Intimacy and Blanket Innocuousness

One of the remarkable aspects of “Tótem” is its stunning homemade quality. The film is predominantly shot handheld, giving us the feeling of being a fly on the wall, witnessing moments of sweeping intimacy and blanket innocuousness alike.

We become immersed in the lives of the characters, particularly Sol and her aunt Nuria (Montserrat Marañon), who are portrayed with such emotional subtext that we can relate to their methods of coping and understanding.

Nature’s Dominance and Symbolism

Throughout the film, an animal motif runs parallel to Sol’s experience. She collects snails, talks to parrots, and muses on deadly snakes and the wing strength of hummingbirds. These animals symbolize nature’s dominance and find their way into the domestic space, mirroring the slow and creeping pace of her father’s impending fate.

Sol’s interactions with these creatures evolve as she comes to grips with her father’s condition, reflecting her growing acceptance of the inevitable.

Impeccable Execution and Realism

Lila Avilés’ writing in “Tótem” is impeccable, with peripheral details that add depth to the film. Each relationship is built on quotidian interactions, from scoldings to jokes, spats, and aimless conversations.

The film’s emotional impact lies in its effortlessness, making us believe that these characters are real. It evokes a sense of familiarity and hits close to home, making “Tótem” feel less like a film and more like a family video.

Balancing Grief with Joy

“Tótem” beautifully balances the complexities of grief. Laughter is shared across tables, memories are fondly recalled, but there is also emotional distance and moments of intersected joy and despair.

The film captures the intricacies of grief at different stages and ages, reminding us of the preciousness of life and the human condition. It is a gentle caress of a film, touching us with pitiful care and leaving us with a mix of comfort and sadness.


In conclusion, “Tótem” is a remarkable film that takes us on a heartfelt journey of anticipatory grief. Lila Avilés’ direction and writing create an authentic portrayal of a family preparing for a celebration while grappling with the imminent loss of a loved one.

Through stunning performances, intimate moments, and symbolic motifs, “Tótem” captures the essence of life, grief, and the importance of cherishing every moment.


  1. Is “Tótem” based on a true story?
    No, “Tótem” is not based on a true story. However, it portrays the universal experience of anticipatory grief and the complexities of familial relationships.
  2. What are some other films directed by Lila Avilés?
    “Tótem” is Lila Avilés’ sophomore feature film. Her first film was “The Chambermaid” (2018), which garnered critical acclaim and won several awards.
  3. Is “Tótem” available for streaming?
    Yes, “Tótem” is now available for streaming. You can find it on platforms like JustWatch and enjoy this poignant and beautifully crafted film.