Sunday, January 26, 2014

City Island (2009) [PG-13] ****

City Island is a one-square-mile portion of the Bronx, New York City, where you're a clam digger if you were born and raised there, and a mussel sucker if you've arrived from someplace else. The Rizzo family lives on City Island, and they are one of the most hilariously entertaining dysfunctional families you'll ever meet. There's Vince Rizzo (Andy Garcia) a correctional officer, his wife Joyce (Julianna Margulies), their college-age daughter Vivian (Dominik Garcia-Lorido, who is Andy Garcia's real-life daughter) and high-school-age son Vinnie (Ezra Miller).

Every one, it seems, has a secret, or, in Vince's case, several secrets. Vince would love to be an actor, and has secretly been taking acting classes. He's also a smoker, secretly. But his biggest secret is that twenty-five years earlier he fathered a child, never married the child's mother, and abandoned them before the baby was born. Now, in an ironic twist of fate, Vince recognizes one of the new arrivals at the Westchester correctional facility where he works, as the son he never met. Taking advantage of a provision that allows the young man to be released to a family member, Vince brings Tony (Steven Strait) home with him, to try to make amends for his failure as Tony's father, and because he hopes that somehow Tony will accept Vince as his father, and that Joyce, Vivian and Vinnie will accept Tony as part of the family. But what really happens is that Tony acts as a catalyst, causing all of the family secrets to be revealed, and all of their cover stories to be exposed as lies.

Featuring a finely crafted script and tight direction from writer and director Raymond De Felitta, and outstanding performances from Garcia, Margulies and Strait as well as the supporting cast, especially Emily Mortimer as an acting classmate of Vince's, and Alan Arkin as his acting coach, City Island succeeds, despite being an independent production with low production values. If you enjoy quirky, offbeat comedy dramas with uplifting life-affirming endings, you will probably enjoy City Island

Labels: comedy, drama  
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 66/100    
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=68, viewers=72)    
City Island Website

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