Friday, January 21, 2011

DVD--City Island

or: Dysfunctional family.

One word to sum it up: Funny.

Along with coming-of-age films, dysfunctional family films have always been a specialty for me. While Little Miss Sunshine may have had the quirk factor turned up to 100%, City Island is different in the fact that it is heartwarmingly funny, even though the characters tend to get on your nerves a little (in a good way). There aren't any dead grandpas in the boot (but there is Alan Arkin), nor is there a child dirty dancing. Instead, City Island adopts a romance that never happens and a rather...strange relationship.

The Rizzos are a family who don't share their habits, aspirations or careers with each other, and are often doing their own thing. The patriarch, Vince (Andy Garcia), who is a corrections officer, brings home a young ex-con, Tony (Steven Strait), one night, who he discovers is his estranged son. This man threatens to uncover the secrets in this family: that Vince wants to be an actor and spends his nights chatting with a fellow wannabe actor Molly (Emily Mortimer); Vince's wife, Joyce (Julianna Margulies) is out to seek revenge on her husband going out all the time by starting an affair with Tony; their daughter, Vivian (Dominik Garcia-Lorido) isn't really attending college and she's actually a stripper; and their son, Vince Jr. (Ezra Miller) has a very strange fetish...

Before I watched City Island, I wasn't in a very good mood, but this movie really cheered me up. It's by no means perfect, as it is occasionally dragged down by some squandering of valuable running time. Truth is, this movie is one of the better dysfunctional family comedies out there. I don't know what it is, but it just has that certain pizazz that not many of them have. Secrets within the family isn't exactly a new concept. Raymond  De Felitta (writer/director) just gives us some interesting new spins on them which are completely realistic, and manges to throw an idea around like a ball in a pinball machine until it falls nicely in place, so he'll move onto the next one. The good thing is that he can do this simultaneously to have a flawless effect, and to be honest, the end result is great. He has a knack for telling a family story exactly how it is. He doesn't linger too long on regrets or trying to keep the family together, because for most of the movie, the family is so apart that you wouldn't believe they are a family. It's interesting and funny to watch the fall and rise of the patriarch, and everything that goes on beneath him.

Making up the family is a great ensemble of actors. Andy Garcia takes the central role, which is one of his best performances in years. Julianna Margulies plays his long-suffering and temperamental wife who is obviously bored, but seems to revel in that by making everyone else feel her pain. Dominik Garcia-Lorido, who is in fact Garcia's real-life daughter, is the ordinary girl not doing what she should be doing. Steven Strait delivers a stand out performance as the con with a heart. I don't whether it was just me, but I absolutely loved Emily Mortimer in this. Perhaps watching Harry Brown a couple of days before helped, but she was perfect as the sort of romantic figure in here, who isn't seen to unravel until the very end. The family performances were fantastic, and added the perfect touch to such a great film that I'd definitely go for again.

THE VERDICT: City Island is a sweet and funny dysfunctional comedy which is to be seen by anyone. Its sharply scripted and well performed, and will undoubtedly manage to make you smile.



  1. "I don't know what it is, but it just has that certain pizazz that not many of them have. Secrets within the family isn't exactly a new concept."

    If you listen to the latest (not yet published) LAMBcast, I say essentially the same thing. It's weird - it's kind of cliched, with a bunch of stock characters, but it's a really endearing, fun, funny movie.

    Glad you liked it, and that it brought you out of your sour mood!

  2. I will listen to it! Looking forward to tomorrows ep too. The movie was so awesome, I loved it (obviously)


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


Related Posts with Thumbnails