City Island

“What we got here is… failure to communicate.”

That famous quote is from the iconic 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, which starred Paul Newman and garnered an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for George Kennedy. Neither of those men spoke that line above. But that line perfectly describes the story we watch in the 2009 film – City Island which stars Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies.

There are two further tie-ins. Garcia plays a prison guard, or more  correctly a Corrections Officer, and Steven Strait plays a convict.

This film is a tale about a family that keeps secrets very well, and has trouble communicating. Garcia is Vincent Rizzo. He is a family man with a wife and two kids. They all live in the small enclave called City Island which technically is part of the Bronx, but is nothing like the Bronx that most of us know about from the movies and television.

Vince’s day job is as a Corrections Officer at a nearby prison. His aspirations and dreams are centered on becoming an actor. He enrolls in an acting class – only he can’t tell is wife about it. So on various nights when he has a class, he tells her that he is out for a poker game. That’s his relatively new secret.

He has an older secret and it involves a prisoner at the jail where he works. In fact Rizzo has the prisoner allowed out of jail on a family member type of parole. He brings the prisoner home, only he can’t tell anyone about his connection to the prisoner.

No balloons. I just want you to make something special, make it nicer…

Make it yourself …

Vincent’s son, Vince Jr., played by Ezra Miller (below), has a few secrets too. He is addicted to Internet porn, and he admires a BBW ( a desirable overweight woman)  who he discovered on the internet, who actually lives in the next house. Vince Jr. is mum about all of this. But not that mum. His wisecracks at the family dinner table are near priceless.

The daughter, Vivian Rizzo, has a secret too. She’s not only lost her scholarship to a college, but she has also been kicked out of the school. So she’s taken a day job to earn enough money to be able to go back to college as a paying student – only it is the kind of job that she cannot tell her parents about. By the way, Vivian (below) is played by Dominik Christina Garcia-Lorida, and she is Andy Garcia’s real life daughter.

Mrs Joyce Rizzo is played by Julianna Margulies who is a very successful actress who has starred in both ER and The Good Wife. Here she has to deal with the Rizzo’s. No easy task. And once she starts to suspect that Vince hasn’t quite been all that upfront with her, she starts an adventure of her own. Of course this has to be a secret too.

So there they are. A nice Italian family that just can’t or won’t communicate with one another. Will their secrets come out? Will each of them crumble under the burden of their own lies?

They live in City Island and they have their own beach as the back yard is right on the shore of Long Island Sound. Yes, this is a working class family. But they are not over the top Italian. Just over the top crazy. For sure, all of this ‘stuff’ is going to come to a boil. You know it is will just have to.

While not quite a comedy, this film is closer to a comedy than a straight drama. It is fun to watch because you can see the explosions coming far in advance. It is fun to watch because it does cross the lines a few times. I mean it goes from far-fetched to ‘ya gotta be kidding me’.

More over, so much of it isn’t the least bit believable, which is funny in its own right.

For sure this isn’t an A-List movie, but it has enough quality acting, decent writing, and a nice bit of direction by newcomer Raymond De Felitta to make it worth your time.

Add in the plusses of Alan Arkin and Emily Mortimer in supporting roles as non-family members, but each of them are an integral part of Vince’s secret, and you will have a nice bit of entertainment.


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