Friday, 21 February 2014

The Family: Blu Ray Review

The Family: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by Roadshow Home Entertainment

The mobster genre gets another shot with this dark dramedy, The FamilyA bearded, greying Robert De Niro is Mob Boss, Giovanni Manzoni, a notorious mafioso who, along with his family has been forced into the witness protection programme after snitching on the powers that be within the family. But, despite being undercover, Giovanni, his wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer), daughter Belle (Glee's Dianna Agron) and son Warren (D'Leo), are constantly having to move from one home to the next.

This time, the family find themselves relocated to Normandy, along with grizzled handler Robert Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones) in another attempt to settle in to a life undercover. However, Giovanni is having trouble staying within the confines of their house and decides to reinvent himself as a writer and that he will write his memoirs.

But Giovanni's unable to control his sadistic violent streak and finds his patience stretched by the French attitude to life; meanwhile, the rest of his family are trying to settle into the humdrum life - Belle's obsessed with her older Maths tutor, Maggie's bored with the snobby French attitudes and Warren's running a series of rackets within school because that's all he knows.

Thanks to one minor slip (and major coincidence) the Mob discovers where the Manzonis are hiding....

The Family is an odd mess of a film.

The mafia fish out of water plots are pitched as comedy initially, and seem to play heavily on the fact that De Niro's spent most of his life playing something to do with the mob. But there are scant laughs along the way that it makes it difficult to latch onto what exactly Besson is pitching for - sure, there are some smart, sly digs at the stereotypes of the French and the American ways of life and sensibilities that just hit the mark but they are largely sidelined after the opening 20 minutes.

Robert De Niro though, shows some real life in his acting, which has not been seen for years - and the meta moment when his character is invited to the local film club and ends up watching Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas suggest the film which has been struggling for a direction is about to go somewhere original. But it doesn't - it settles in for playing out all the cliches and offering no twists in its slightly overlong plot. It all results in a Besson style gun fight at the end and adds to the overall unbalanced feeling of the film.

All in all, The Family aims for dysfunctionally dark and doesn't quite go far enough; likewise, with its subtle comedy and commentary, it's guilty of holding back rather than fully going for it. Which means all in all that the tonally inconsistent mafia film The Family just needs to fuhgeddaboudit.

Extras: Making of, The many meanings of f**K


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