Proof Review: City Island (2010)

Release Date
March 19, 2010
Director
Raymond De Felitta
Screenplay
Raymond De Felitta
Distributed By
Anchor Bay Films
Budget
$6 million
Comedy, Drama, Indie, Romance
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, smoking and language
104 minutes

City Island

No family unit is perfect. That fact is clearly proven by the Rizzo family. Each member has a secret portion of their life that they hide from the rest of the family, ranging from smoking when the rest think they quit to lying about a weekly poker game to instead attend acting classes and auditions. No one knows for sure what causes us to lie, but as humans it is in our nature to do so and City Island catalogs nicely the strain that lying can put on a family, all in a well-mannered and humorous way.

The best parts of City Island include the family together as a whole, especially when surrounding the dinner table trying to display a nice dinner for their new guest, with emphasis on the word “try” as the dinner results in the family members filing from the table one by one. The dynamic the family shares is truly unique and less heartwarming than straight up realistic. Whose father never said the wrong thing to their mother, only to end up digging a deeper hole as he continued to talk, completely unintentionally and meaning well? Whose son didn’t say inappropriate things to his sister and get sent to his room? Whose sister wasn’t stripping on the sly while trying to pay for college? Well scratch that last one at least.

Expect a similar feel from City Island as was experienced in Greenberg. Although empathy comes easier for the City Island characters than cold hard Greenberg, the buoyancy is comparable, leaving one to wonder what causes these characters to act out the way that they do? Communication is key in relationships and both Greenberg and the characters of City Island lacked the basic knowledge to understand how to speak with others/one another.

Emily Mortimer is stunning as the outsider, acting as the confidante for Andy Garcis’s character, Vince. Acting as Vince’s emotional mistress (as compared to his physical mistress), Molly (Mortimer) is just mysterious enough to completely draw an audience in and fall for her. Just when you think she is going to shatter the standards you place on her, she rises above and becomes the star of the show. Mortimer has a long and incredible career ahead of her following this piece.

By the conclusion of the film, the mixed feelings of happiness and sadness meld so forcefully together, they form tears as the family unravels on their front lawn. The emotion delivered from Andy Garcia in his final moments of the film (matched by his audition scene where he is allowed to become himself), proves without a doubt that Garcia can handle the dramedy genre and while adding his own unique flair to the role. The secrets that have bottled rush out just as all the emotion you held throughout the film escapes in one large lump in the throat. The ending is questionably “sappy” but the real life understanding that comes from the characters’ reactions beats the melodramatic overtone of most Hollywood’s makeshift climaxes that lead you on and force you through multiple different end points. Instead, City Island leaves the audience with an understanding and admiration for the family’s resiliency without forcefully dragging them along. By the finish, you respect each one of the family members and are left to wonder what secrets your own family is hiding from you.

 

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