Vince Rizzo (Andy Garcia) is a prison guard who has lived on City Island all his life, but secretly wishes to be an actor. Instead of sharing his dream with his volatile wife Joyce (Julianna Margulies), he pretends he is playing pokerto attend acting classes in Manhattan. When Vince is asked to share his deepest secret with his acting partner Molly (Emily Mortimer) in preparation for a workshop, he decides to admit responsibility for his grown up ex-con son Tony (Steven Strait), who he himself has only just met and has kept secret from family. But his wife, his teenage son Vince Jr. (Ezra Miller) and daughter Vivian (Dominik Garcia-Lorido) have their own secrets which all start to unravel when Vince brings Tony home.
Review by Louise Keller:
Everyone has a secret in this engrossing drama in which truth and lies are a double edged sword. A prison guard who wants to be an actor, a wife who craves passion, an actress who wants to believe pretending means the truth never existed and an ex-crim son who uses pretence as a survival tool are some of the characters we meet on City Island, where angst bubbles under the surface of the tranquil fishing-village environment. There's a beating pulse to this emotionally complex story and writer director Raymond De Felitta has created a wonderful, involving film with flawed characters we understand and with whom we empathise. When the secrets start to unravel like a tightly coiled ball of wool with which a kitten has toyed, the result is an emotional powerhouse.
There are two kinds of people who live on City Island: those who have always lived there and newcomers. Garcia's Rizzo is one of the former and he loves his home. He also loves his wife and family but is a bad communicator. It's a top-shelf cast and Garcia is at his best in this role which sees him as a volatile husband, angry father, tentative actor and vulnerable human being. The scene in which Rizzo goes to his first acting audition is a highlight - from the hilarity of his Brando impersonation in the first few awkward moments to the intimidating conclusion.
The kind of humour we encounter is the kind that is only funny when it is not happening to us. Many of the revelations come as the result of emotional pain. Julianna Margulies is a knockout as Rizzo's highly strung wife Joyce; Emily Mortimer, stunning as the fragile Molly who gives Rizzo the confidence he needs when he needs it most; and Steven Strait perfect as the story's catalyst Tony, the son Rizzo has never accepted - until now. There's chemistry too, between Joyce and Tony, of which they are both acutely aware. Every character plays a part in the web of deceit - including Rizzo's teenage kids: Vince Jr (Ezra Miller), caught up in his fantasy about overweight women and buxom daughter Vivian (impressively played by Andy Garcia's daughter Dominik Garcia-Lorido), secretly working as a pole dancer in a strip club.
All the story strands converge in an almost farcical scene at night, in which husband, wife, friend, estranged son and teenage kids reveal their secrets and expose their demons. It's a satisfying conclusion to a terrific film that throws a positive light on the human condition and one that is thoroughly enjoyable at that.
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CITY ISLAND (M)
CAST: Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies, Steven Strait, Dominik García-Lorido, Ezra Miller, Emily Mortimer, Alan Arkin
PRODUCER: Raymond De Felitta, Andy Garcia, Zachary Matz, Lauren Versel
DIRECTOR: Raymond De Felitta
SCRIPT: Raymond De Felitta
EDITOR: David Leonard
MUSIC: Jan A.P. Kaczmarek
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Franckie Diago
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Anchor Bay
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 27, 2010
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.