Heartwarming Family Tale
City Island is a movie about a dysfunctional family, but unlike other similar movies that are often over the top, the engaging script by writer-director Raymond De Felitta and good cast result in a likeable film.
The Rizzo household is typical of today’s lifestyle where family members are so immersed in their own lives they have little time to communicate. Vince (Andy Garcia) is a correctional officer who secretly desires to be an actor. He attends a weekly acting class -- but tells his wife Joyce that he’s playing poker.
Joyce (Julianna Margulies), a working mom trying to balance home life with her own lost ambitions, now wonders if her husband is having an affair. This thought comes to fruition when Andy arrives home one evening with another woman. Joyce is shocked since her car has been loaned out, so she realizes Vince thinks she’s not there, which worsens her suspicions. Actually, Molly (Emily Mortimer) is an acting coach who has convinced Vince to come clean with the family about his secret acting ambitions.
More secrets unravel when Vince and Joyce discover their daughter Vivian (Dominik Garcia-Lorido) has dropped out of college and is now a stripper. This secret unravels during a visit from Tony (Steven Strait), an ex-con Vince sprung from jail and brought home to live in their shack by the seashore. Actually, he’s Vince’s real son -- another secret that will soon be revealed to everyone.
The setting, City Island, is a real fishing village at the northern tip of the Bronx, on the shores of Long Island Sound. It’s the perfect spot where born-and-raised City Islander Vince feels at home. The story of how he sees his family slowly heading in different directions comes across as heartwarming and often funny, particularly with the plotline of the Rizzo’s young son Vince Jr. (Ezra Miller). He has a fetish for large women -- which he feeds both on the internet and in spying on his neighbor.
Garcia is terrific in the film, and Margulies appears as solid here as in TV’s The Good Wife. Garcia-Lorido (The Lost City), Andy Garcia’s daughter, does an efficient job of balancing her two character arcs. Strait (Stop-Loss) has little screen time but fulfills his role successfully.
Another great character in the story is brought to life by the always-engaging Alan Arkin, who portrays Michael, the acting class instructor. It’s Michael’s lessons about life that eventually set Vince on a course of self-discovery and ultimately family mending.
City Island includes a few cliché moments but is otherwise very enjoyable.
(Released by Anchor Bay Films and rated “PG-13” for sexual content, smoking and language.)
Review also posted at www.reviewexpress.com.