Review by Nathan Samdahl (B)
City Island is a surprisingly funny and charming dramedy from filmmaker Raymond De Felitta. Not having seen any of De Felitta's earlier films, based on the trailer, I expected City Island to be average at best, chocked full of quirky characters and good ideas, but suffering from mediocre execution. However, I was happily proven wrong as the strength of the performances, particularly from Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies, and a great climactic scene at the end where the shit really hits the fan. The film is enjoyable throughout.
Each character in the film is well developed and interesting, particularly Andy Garcia and his secret love for, and at times, phobia of acting and his son (played by Ezra Miller) and his bizarre fetish for feeding large women. Also, the town of City Island itself, which was pretty unknown to me until I saw the film, acts almost as a character in itself with its own collection of eccentricities.
Strong supporting performances by Emily Mortimer, Steven Strait (who plays Tony, Andy Garcia's fully grown son) and the always great Alan Arkin (Garcia's acting teacher) help round out a strong cast. The roles for Mortimer and Arkin aren't nearly as juicy as some of their best (Lars and the Real Girl and Little Miss Sunshine respectively), but each manages to deliver their fair share of fun and touching moments.
City Island may ultimately suffer from being a bit too small for most audiences. Had I not gone to the screening, the trailer alone would not really make me jump up to see the film, which I suspect may be a fairly uniform response. This is sad as the trailer does not do justice to the charm and heart the film exudes from start to end.
This is definitely a strong dramedy to see, especially if you are getting a bit sick of the mediocre visual effect tentpoles that litter the summer months. Will the film stick with you for years to come or even months to come? Probably not, but it is a fun way to spend a couple hours.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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