Directed by: Raymond De Felitta
Written by: Raymond De Felitta
Starring: Andy Garcia, Alan Arkin, Julianna Margulies
Somewhere, quaintly hidden in all the bustle and busyness of New York City and the Bronx, there lies a small fishing village called City Island where the story takes place. And somewhere, quaintly hidden in all the bustle and busyness of Hollywood, there lies a small indie comedy called City Island where great laughs are harbored.
It is family melodrama at its finest, and most certainly entertaining. The film follows one family as they hide their smoking, their habits, their hobbies and their great secrets until misunderstanding after misunderstanding leads to a crescendo of revelation and yelling.
It begins with closeted aspiring actor Vince Rizzo (Andy Garcia) who is a prison guard at day but attends acting classes at night while he tells his wife he is at poker and hides Marlon Brando films in a porn stash to avert suspicion. However, all of this secrecy leads his wife to believe he is having an affair. Vince discovers a familiar face at work, a son he abandoned years ago who he hides his identity from yet brings home to his family. The new hunky house guest, a daughter home from college that loses her scholarships and strips to pay her way, a son with a fetish for feeding large women and a whole other catch of secrets, lies and misunderstandings set this family drama off into a Greek tragedy.
The constant family satire sets the film on its Little Miss Sunshine ambitions, even poaching Alan Arkin for a role as an exhausted acting coach sick of all the Marlon Brando impersonators. However, this is a much different film from Little Miss Sunshine and much different from the countless pieces commenting on suburban lifestyle and deteriorating families. City Island, for one offers more laughs and is more light-hearted, despite its dark material.
Though the film has considerable errors and is sometimes relies on coincidence to drive the plot, it is still a must see. The performances and dialogue are as sharp as the films minimalistic tones. Those fishing for some good laughs and independent cinema at its greatest should head to City Island. And don’t worry, there is plenty of bait.