Review of film: “CITY ISLAND”
Raymond De Felitta
Raymond De Felitta
Carrie Baker Reynolds
PG-13 for sexual content, smoking and language.
“[Tagline:] Truth is stranger than family. “
“Mussel Suckers and Clam Diggers.”
“We would take a [truth] of the Zip-Lock bag today.”
“Pay back, papa!”
“Otherwise, very nice work.”
“I’m thinking of becoming a pimp.”
“Like anything to be [able to be] a marionette.”
“I’ve got to get OUT of here!”
“I need to FEED a girl!”
“Maybe it’s not a poker game.”
“I pretend I’m more ‘psycho’ than they are.”
“You’re all so SICK!”
8.5 of 10 stars (based on an advance screening of the 100-minute film).
Urban DECEITS lead to Family Retreats
When we think of the New York City area, we usually think of crowded big-city neighborhoods made up of loads of clustered apartment or office buildings...
... But in the borough of the Bronx, there’s a small 1 square mile fishing village called City Island. Living there in a house built by his grandfather is Vince Rizzo (ANDY GARCIA), who works as a “corrections officer” (-- DON’T call him a “prison guard”!)…
… Although he tries to keep it hidden from his family, Andy very much wants to be an actor. He’s secretly taking acting classes in Manhattan, is sort of “ashamed” of his pipe dreams, & thus he tells his wife Joyce (Julianna Margulies) that he’s supposedly going out to “poker” games (-- which she thinks are really a situation of his having extramarital trysts)…
… Acting class exercises can sometimes be overly “revealing”, & that’s what happens to Andy: he’s told he should plan on disclosing his largest “SECRET” in life to the class at a future get-together...
... Inspired by that, he privately tells his acting partner Molly (EMILY MORTIMER) that he’s just recently found his long-lost SON Tony Nardella (STEVEN STRAIT), whom he’d abandoned when he learned his old girlfriend was pregnant with the kid…
… That action creates a “domino effect” of problems for those around Andy: Steven is living in Andy’s JAILHOUSE as a mother-hating convict, & Andy decides to take him out on a “parole” to live in his OWN HOME with his family...
... But, he doesn’t tell them (or Steven!) just “WHO” he is to Steven or WHY he’s decided to supposedly “hire” him to put a toilet in a shed out back…
… That causes issues for OTHER family members, & they were already pretty “screwed-up” BEFORE the “addition” of Steven: Andy’s wife Julianna is increasingly upset over the thought of Andy’s having an “affair”, & doesn’t like having a “stranger” in their midst (tho he is “attractive” in certain ways)…
… Andy’s teenage son, Vinnie, Jr. (EZRA MILLER), hides the fact that he’s into watching “FAT chicks who love food” quasi-porn on the internet, & he regularly “mouths off” to all in the family (altho he’s probably the most “honest” person in the household)…
… Andy’s daughter Vivian (DOMINIK GARCÍA-LORIDO) -- who suddenly seems to have become more “well-endowed” -- is supposedly home from “college”, but is really secretly performing as a STRIPPER… The whole family is hiding a BUNCH of secrets, such as the way they’re SMOKING, etc…
… Andy’s acting coach Michael Malakov (ALAN ARKIN) tries hard to teach things to his class, but is often frustrated by those in attendance… Emily tries to encourage Andy to go to an AUDITION for a film role, & what happens with that impacts EVERYONE in Andy’s family, since various secrets keep “UNRAVELING” with an increasing level of “complications” from the misunderstandings…
… Overall, the film was touted as “a smart and charming comedy about a family that stops at nothing to avoid the truth.” -- and, the strange thing is, that’s actually ACCURATE! Rather than go off on the typical “STUPID” tangents we so often see in such films nowadays, this oddly follows “LOGICALLY” from the premises (namely, LIES & cover-ups) that have been set-up…
… Will Andy “GET” anywhere in his acting?… Will the TRUTH come out about him, his daughter, & others?… Will Steven learn just WHY Andy is suddenly showing an interest in him?… Will the knowledge that comes be destructive or helpful to the people involved?…
… The actors are very GOOD in their roles, believable and “engaging” in their consistent quirks. The film (which won the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival’s “Audience Award”) thus turns into a DRAMA with comedic over- & under-tones (rather than “slapstick”)...
… While it’s not “great” (& its humor is situational rather than arising from clever lines), I found it to be a real PLEASURE to experience, since it was “different” enough to be considerably BETTER than you’d “expect” from the general plot description…
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