“City Island” Movie Review

"City Island" film poster“City Island” is a fantastic little drama wrapped in a comedy. On a small island just outside the Bronx lives the Rizzo family headed up by Vince Rizzo (played by Andy Garcia), they all have secrets, and now that the prison guard father Vince is bringing home a parolee all the private dealings are quickly coming to a head over spring break.

Why you’ll like it:
Genuine characters creating great comedy and drama; well-told story

The story unfolds in a very smooth flow, from learning that such a tough guy as Vince wants to moonlight as an actor to seeing all the small desires that drive each character, this is a well-developed script that incrementally increases the information of each player through even pacing and solid acting. Everyone delivers a worthy performance, and as great as Andy Garcia played his part I have to give a lot of kudos to Ezra Miller for his pitch-perfect portrayal of an annoying boy teenager, I felt like I’ve known him a dozen times over. There’s a lot of small stories effectively put into place with minimal effort and each of them makes an impact on the central family.

The Rizzos are a wiley argumentative bunch, there is no small-talk in this house, only yelling and one-sided debates. Even the fanciest of dinners end with everyone storming off, but all the frustration and screaming is eventually revealed to be a veil of insecurity and need for love and appreciation. That sounds a lot like any family I’ve ever known. Normally so much arguing and strife would be tense, but even though it’s delivered with a straight face it brings so much humor and laughter, even at its emotional apex the laughs only get bigger while making you love all the family’s lies and anxieties all the more.

Why you won’t like it:
You don’t like simple character drama/comedies (you prefer over the top humor)

I can’t knock this film for any faults, it’s not shot with any particular style worthy of note, there’s nothing really offensive about it (unless fetishes about feeding overweight women is offensive to you) and I think that everything was executed perfectly. I plan on going back to this island and bringing my friends.

4 out of 5 stars

Starring: Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies, Alan Arkin, Dominik Garcia-Lorido
Director: Raymond De Felitta
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hr. 40 min.
Release Date: April 16, 2010