Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

‘City Island’ review

Centered around a severely dysfunctional family, “City Island” is a comedic drama that is, to quote one of the main characters,”Greek in scope.” The members of the family are deeply invested in their misguided impressions of one another. These misguided impressions are the results of constant lies and secrecy, as each family member fears judgment and disappointment from the others. The film chronicles the presence of deceit and misinterpretation, ultimately showing the slow unraveling and final rebuilding of a unique group of people.

The film follows Vince Rizzo (Andy Garcia), father of three kids and husband to Joyce Rizzo (Julianna Margulies). Vince is a correctional officer and closeted aspiring actor, who, after discovering that the son he abandoned from a previous relationship is in jail, decides to bring him home to stay with his family. His son Tony (Steven Strait) inadvertently discovers each family members’ secret, causing an escalation in their scope and effect on each person. The presence of Tony as “the voice of reason” often lends itself to humorous moments, as the convict seems to be the most well-adjusted member of the bunch. It is ironic moments and ideas such as this, that makes “City Island” particularly witty and fun to watch.

In the end, almost every secret is the product of a lack of communication among the various family members, and thus could have been prevented. The presence of Tony forces these secrets to ultimately come to light, turning a secretive dysfunctional family to one that can at least address its issues and begin to fix them.

“City Island” is a smart and overlooked independent film.   Reminiscent of a less popular “Little Miss Sunshine”, this film is witty and engaging with an outstanding cast led by Garcia, and writing that lends itself to the strong acting. One of the greatest elements of the film is the clear attention to details that Oscar-nominated director Raymond De Felitta put into each scene, creating a strong sense of fluidity and continuity that allows for the presence of humor in an otherwise dramatic film.

An example of this specific yet simple detail occurs in the beginning of the movie, when every family member is shown secretly smoking, thinking that they are the only ones who were unable to kick the bad habit and fearful of negative reactions from the rest of the family. These brief moments are incredibly thoughtful and allow the actors’ actions to engage the audience, illustrating the wide range of deceit present in the family over even the smallest of issues.

I would highly recommend this relatively unknown film, as it is a highly entertaining, yet thoughtful movie. Unlike many “dysfunctional family” films, the actors bring enough human elements and reality to their performances to make this film both enjoyable and thought-provoking.

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