Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Quick Look: CITY ISLAND

Every member of the family at the center of City Island has a secret. The blue-collar prison guard father (Andy Garcia) wants to be an actor. The mother (Julianna Margulies) smokes. The daughter (Dominik Garcia-Lorido) got kicked out of college and is now saving up money by performing at a strip club. The son (Ezra Miller) secretly sneaks peeks at the neighbor’s webcam peep show. That’d be enough to secrets to fill up a movie even if the father didn’t bring home a recently released prisoner (Steven Strait) who also happens to be his long-lost illegitimate son (which just so happens to be yet another secret in the mix). Writer-director Raymond De Felitta has all the elements in place for a rich farce, but then proceeds to deploy them in befuddling, inadequate ways. Awkwardly paced, the film trudges along with the characters, pushing the secrets along with them. There’s certainly little else of interest. The writing is flat, the performances adequate, and the imagery routine. Finally, as a climax, we get a scene that has all the skeletons come out of the closets at the same moment in a scene that’s embarrassingly contrived. There’s an appealing spirit about the film and the actors are certainly likable enough (they’re even joined by Emily Mortimer and Alan Arkin), but I still spent the entire 104 minutes wondering when it would get good.

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