Saturday, May 29, 2010

City Island

It’s not hard to see why City Island took out the Audience Award at 2009 Tribeca film festival. Writer/director Raymond De Felitta’s film has a distinctly New York, ‘indie’ sensibility; set in the Bronx (on the tiny, eponymous island), featuring a dysfunctional family headed up by Andy Garcia’s Vince Rizzo, as a prison guard with secret aspirations to be an actor. In fact, the whole family has secrets, from smoking to stripping and food fetishes; there’s conflict, there’s quirk and there’s definitely home ground advantage.

For Australians audiences there’s still much to enjoy. De Felitta’s slightly overwritten script proves to be a fun twist on the prodigal son parable, when unbeknownst to Tony (Steven Strait) Vince, the father who ran out on him, springs him from gaol and brings him home to meet a similarly clueless family. Hijinks most certainly ensue, where the strength of the film lies in the great ensemble casting. Garcia and Julianna Margulies make for a great married couple, while Emily Mortimer brings depth to her kooky wannabe star and the singular Alan Arkin lends his charm as Vince’s acting coach.

The film’s highlight is a scene in which Vince botches an open call audition for a Scorsese movie, only to impress with his prison guard improv. It’s this delightful, self-aware tone that brings an added element to what could easily have been just a run-of-the-mill family dramedy where, surprise surprise, the petty crim turns out to be the most together of them all.

Published by Street Press Australia
Australian release date: 27 May 2010

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