Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Review: City Island (2009) TH

An imperfect family on a small NY island

This is a personal story about secrets: hiding them, sharing them. From the son who's interested in kinky stuff, the daughter with a racy job, to the father who sneaks off to no one in the family knows where. Everyone here has got one and it's high time they come out instead of ducking away.

On a small fishing island a corrections officer named Vince Rizzo (Andy Garcia) notices someone of familiarity called Tony (Steven Strait) that got transferred to the prison he works at. He knew the young man's mother and decides to take him into his home on good faith from a stipulation in his sentence called provisional parole. Tony absorbs the vociferous and argumentative family with reserve, as this is just another temporary place and nothing more. The daughter is in town visiting from school but plays referee, and the rebellious son is enrolled in high school but never attends. This is your typical dysfunctional family with outbursts and sarcasm to express themselves instead of "good mornings," "how are yous" and who could forget "have a nice day" except them.

"City Island" isn't really selling you something you might not have seen before and is a little coincidental at times, but gives a little bit of hope to those people who are in the same situation or are on the verge of getting there. This is a light drama with distinct characters that feel and breath the part. This comes with a few chuckles from some puns and in-jokes to other films. The Rizzos seem to have grown sick of each other but are still hanging in there to make it work because deep down inside they care but have a weird and aggressive way of showing it in loud New York fashion. There are some learning experiences, such as finding out that hiding from one another creates more space, instead of embracing each other for their own distinctions and imperfections. The characters managed to slightly grow from the outset and head towards the direction of a more comfortable life. Just because things didn't work out the way you originally envisioned, doesn't mean you have to give up or grow spiteful as you have your support group to fall back on: your family. Yep, those folks who aren't going away. Use what you got, or miss out.

Director: Raymond De Felitta (Two Family House, The Thing About My Folks)
Starring: Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies, Steven Strait, Emily Mortimer
Website: IMDB