Friday, June 18, 2010

movie review: City Island

City Island
The backstory: City Island won the Audience Award at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, and it has a wonderful cast. It's also refreshing to see an independent comedy, as so many films deal with more serious subject matters.

The basics: The Rizzo family is full of secrets. Everyone has one. Some are bigger than others, but the audience is in on all of them. Watch the trailer here.

My thoughts: I really wanted to like City Island. The acting was superb. The idea of the film was wonderful. The cascade of secrets, of course, all come out in one, long, awkward, unfunny scene. The film is certainly an homage to and a twist on a tragedy, but it ends up falling short of its aim despite the great acting. The problem for me is silly storylines are given as much dramatic heft as the serious ones. The juxtaposition of exposing these secrets at the same time made them all pale in comparison. As the audience knew all of the secrets from early in the film, by the time the resolution came, I was bored. There wasn't anything worth waiting for. The ending seemed predictable because I had ninety minutes of processing all of these secrets, while the characters were suddenly faced with secrets large and small. I had a difficult time emotionally connecting with the characters (and understanding their actions) because I knew more than they did. I'm not sure if creating this rift was Raymond De Felitta's intention, but it didn't work for me.

The verdict: Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies make this film worth seeing. The comedic elements were mostly lost on me in the mix of deep human emotion and silly lies, but comedy is an incredibly personal reaction.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Length: 104 minutes
Release date: It's in theaters now, and the dvd releases August 24, 2010.
Source: I paid to see it at the Spectrum Theatres.

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