The arrival of Anna's widowed paternal aunt and cousin from Spain, after the death of her uncle at the hands of pro-Franco forces, foment the latent activist propensity of Anna's father. He ditches his career in favor of aiding pro-Marxist Chilean activists working to bring Salvador Allende to power. Her mother's work transitions from writing for the popular Marie Claire magazine to documenting stories of women and their access, or the lack there of, to abortions. The family moves from a beautiful house with a lovely garden to a little cramped apartment. Money is tight. But Anna plays her part, with a wee bit of over-enthusiasm, by turning off the lights and the heat to help her family. She is also is distrustful of and distant from her cousin, who seems to symbolize these changes.
The flawed idealism, irrationality and chaos of the world of adults trickle through the cracks that appear in the fragile veneer of wisdom and infallibility when subjected to the innocent questions of a child, questions so simple that they are profound. Anna is at the cusp of age where one begins to the shed absolute faith in what is told, and starts to question in order to understand, especially when something conflicts with what was hitherto assumed to be right. When subjected to the notions of socialism and group solidarity, she tries to test her understanding of the concept in her classroom. And when it backfires, she tells her parents that she would never trust groups again. Rather amused and proud, they tell her about differentiating it from herd mentality. To which, she asks, "Can you tell sheep from group solidarity? Are you never mistaken?"
Her little brother is a foil to her character. She tries to allay his concerns by telling to him that policeman ticketing their father's car would not through Napalm at them, since it was only used in wars, and nor would he start a Nuclear War. No, that would be job for the Barbudos, the Commies, who by the way were "red and bearded". Francois retorts, "Well, you got that wrong. Santa Claus is red and bearded!" Wisdom knows no age.
As the movie explores these themes of ideology and culture through Anna's eyes, she begins to understand and sometimes just make peace with her new life. While Anna learns to like the new foods, accept her new home, and befriend her cousin, she also gets a taste of the notion of our right to choose to believe in something from amongst a multiplicity of "right" ideas, and stand by it. So when your father forbids you from watching cartoons because Mickey Mouse is a fascist, you would know whether you want to express group solidarity, be one among the sheep or stand out.